On June 27, 2011, Jeju celebrated its four year anniversary of its inscription to UNESCO’s World Natural Heritage list. Jeju has become a “triple crown” winner in UNESCO’s nature and science field with designations of Biosphere Reserve in 2002, World Natural Heritage in 2007, and World Geopark in 2010. As one of the final contenders for the New7Wonders of Nature, Jeju has been recognized by the world for its outstanding value.
Here is a rundown of how Jeju has performed:
First, the value of the Jeju World Natural Heritage sites has continued to rise with an increase of visitors every year. In comparison to the visitors in 2006, the total visitors in 2010 have increased by 71.2 percent and foreign visitors by 185.5 percent.
Second, Jeju has stood out by establishing itself as a role model among the World Natural Heritage sites by adopting and implementing a policy for conservation and utilization for the past four years. It has successfully collected 52 billion won in fundraising.
Third, Jeju has established infrastructure for visitor services. Rest areas and information centers around the World Natural Heritage sites are newly constructed, including Witseoreum Rest Area and the Information Centers on Mt. Halla, Geomunoreum, and Seongpanak. The World Natural Heritage Center is one of the infrastructure projects funded by 29.8 billion won. Construction began in August 2010 and is expected to finish in June 2012.
Fourth, Jeju now offers diversified tourism with various new or re-opened courses to the World Natural Heritage sites, such as, the Donnaeko course, which is now open following a 15-year hiatus. Other projects are the newly developed Geomunoreum course and international trekking courses. Jeju has also been recognized as a model location for eco-tours.
Fifth, from 2008 to 2011, an opportunity to shed new light on the mystery of Yongcheondonggul Cave has been provided through research projects to create new values of the Jeju World Natural Heritage sites. The research projects included underwater surveys and the search for relics in Yongcheondonggul. Important relics from the Unified Silla Period were found, revealing the lifestyle and culture of the past. Also, this academic research resulted in articles being published in both national and international journals like the Journal of Geology and the Geoscience Journal.
Sixth, Jeju has expanded its international network by establishing a sisterhood with other World Natural Heritage sites in four countries: Hawaii Volcanoes National Park in the US, Mount Taisan in China, Tongariro National Park in New Zealand, and Shirakami-Sanchi in Japan.
Lastly, the brand value of Jeju has increased via national and global publicity and promotional activities to disseminate the value of World Natural Heritage. To name a few, the activities over the last four years include: more than 30 broadcasts through special feature programs on Japan’s NHK and UK’s BBC, listing in the textbook for 1st year middle school students in 2009, 4th grade textbook in 2010, World Natural Heritage commemorating postal stamps in 2009, and more.
ⓒ Jeju Weekly 2009 (http://www.jejuweekly.com)
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