|▲ Olle 18 is one of the most popular and walkers are thought to add around 30,000 won each to the local economy. Photo courtesy Jeju Olle
The Jeju Rural Revival Support Center released survey results Dec. 9 suggesting that Jeju Olle has an annual scenic value of 35 billion won to the local economy as a tourism resource.
Surveyors quizzed 1,656 users of Jeju Olle and calculated the scenic value of the trails per visitor, then multiplied this by the 1.1 million trail users per year.
In a sign of the brand power of the network, 22.6 percent of those surveyed said the trail network is their abiding image of the island, only trailing Mt. Hallasan in first place.
It was also found that 48.9 percent of trail users are longstayers (three nights and four days), twice the rate recorded in 2006, thought to be a direct result of the popularity of the Olle.
The first Olle-gil was opened in September 2009 and the 21st course opened in November 2012 to make the total trail length 422km. The average course length is 15km requiring around 5 to 6 hours to complete.
The report also showed that 95 percent of visitors are highly likely to revisit and 78.5 percent are satisfied with the Olle network. Over 77 percent believe the Olle brand is beneficial to the Jeju region with a similar rate believing it has a positive conservation value.
The Jeju Rural Revival Support Center undertook the study to provide foundational data for policymakers to draw up logical conservation measures through understanding the value of the Jeju Olle to the local economy and environment.
Center manager Go Seong-bo said that despite not being seen as a market product, the Olle trail injects 30 and 40 billion won into the local economy annually as around 30,000 won is spent per person if 2013 figures are used as a guide.
Founder Suh Myungsuk was inspired by the Santiago Trail in Spain which attracted 270,000 people in 2010. In comparison the Jeju Olle has attracted over a million annually since 2012 among 10 million tourists who now visit the island.