▲ Lonely Planet co-founder Tony Wheeler speaking during the 2011 World Trail Conference. Photo by The Jeju Weekly
Travel guru Tony Wheeler, co-founder of The Lonely Planet book series, spoke at the three-day 2011 World Trail Conference at the Lotte Hotel Jeju, Seogwipo City, on Nov. 7 about his journeys, hiking, and the island’s potential as a tourist destination. Wheeler also discussed the evolution of travel during a speech about walking trails.
A self-proclaimed walking enthusiast, Wheeler said one of the reasons he decided to participate in the event was he thought “it would be an opportunity to, not walk the whole Jeju Olle trail, but to walk two or three days of it perhaps.”
“I’ve walked one day of it now so maybe in a week’s time I will have two more days under my belt, under my feet,” he added.
After having traversed Olle Course No. 8 and some of No. 7 the previous day, Wheeler said Jeju has “a beautiful coastline, but I have to see some more before I really know ... I’m hoping that in a week’s time I will have seen a lot more of Jeju.”
Wheeler said that the nature of travel has undergone a change which has allowed for an abundance of tourism trends to flourish, one of which has been hiking.
“The reasons there is so much interest in trails and trekking and walking these days is that today everything is so fast. We are always jumping on a plane and next day we are somewhere else. We’re doing everything very quickly ... [However] you cannot walk too fast, you can only go one step at a time.”
This ideology is completely in line with Olle Founder Suh Myung Sook who built the trails to offer people an opportunity to slow down and enjoy the environment that surrounds them.
“I think I like walking and people like walking because it goes slowly and because it’s a way of meeting people,” he said. “It’s a way of meeting the landscape as well, much more slowly.”
Wheeler continued that he thought a good walking trail “should have wonderful views, it should take you to places that you didn’t expect to see, it should have incidents that you find very enjoyable.”
During the press conference Wheeler said that prior to having been invited to the event he was not familiar with the Olle trails and in his books that cover Korea the walking paths are not very well covered, but after this trip that might change.
“I’m hoping when I finish [this trip] that I will feed some information back [to the company] and there will be more coverage in the next addition of our Korea guide,” he told reporters.
He continued that he will tell the company that people feel there is a lack of information about Jeju in the Lonely Planet guides.
“I think as far as the Jeju Olle trail goes, I would imagine that today a lot of visitors from overseas who come to the island would come here with the intention of walking some of the trail … and I would hope that next addition there would be more coverage of walking the Jeju Olle trail,” he concluded.
ⓒ Jeju Weekly 2009 (http://www.jejuweekly.com)
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