As of Dec. 16, the number of foreign tourists to visit Jeju in a single year surpassed 1 million for the first time in the island’s history.
The 1 millionth foreign visitor was Chinese tourist Raymond Wei, 40, who landed at the Jeju International Airport on Dec. 16 at 9:30 a.m. via Jin Air from Shanghai. Jeju Governor Woo Keun Min was on hand to congratulate him.
“I’m glad you’re wearing thick coats. Jeju is very cold these days,” the governor said, handing Wei a bouquet of flowers and a round-trip flight ticket to Jeju.
Jeju began to attract foreign tourists in 1968 with direct flights between Jeju and Osaka, Japan, but foreign tourist numbers were barely at 100,000 in 1986. After years of stagnation, the number of foreign tourists has gradually increased from 330,000 in 2004, 460,000 in 2006, 630,000 in 2009, and 770,000 last year.
Jeju’s tourism revenue from foreign visitors rapidly grew from 100 billion won (US$85 million) in 1990, 400 billion won ($340 million) in 2000, 700 billion won ($595 million) last year, to over 1 trillion won ($850 million) this year.
To achieve the Jeju government’s goal to attract 2 million foreign tourist visits by 2014, some issues have been brought up.
Out of 1 million foreign visitors this year, more than the half (559,000) of tourists are Chinese, and 167,000 are Japanese. About 73 percent of foreign tourists are from either China or Japan.
Another issue is a lack of accommodations. Jeju only has 69 tourist hotels rated comfort, first class or luxury (7,557 rooms). Last September, some members of the Baojian group, which brought 12,000 employees to Jeju, had to stay at small guest houses.
With an increasing number of foreign tourists, the provincial government plans to improve the international airports accessibility, increase the number of cruise routes to Jeju, increase number of accommodations, and by offering bilingual tour guides.
For more information, please call the Jeju Special Self-Governing Province at 064-710-3921.
(Translated by Angela Kim)
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