This year will be another important year for Korea’s sports tourism portfolio. The World Taekwondo Championships will be held in May, the IAAF World Athletics Championships in August and another F1 race will return to the new track at Yeongam in October. Added to which, Pyeongchang, will find out if it will host the 2018 Winter Olympics, when the decision is made in July. A busy sports tourism calendar is thanks to the legacy and positive reverberations continuing to be felt and reflected in all sectors of Korea’s tourism industry, since hosting the 1988 Summer Olympiad and 2002 FIFA World Cup.
If successful, the winter Olympics will bring global attention onto the Korean peninsula once again and with that comes lucrative tangible and intangible benefits for the host nation. Winning the right to host a global sporting festival provides a unique platform from which to raise awareness of the destination, while cutting through cultural stereo-typing and showcasing the country’s diversity in areas such as arts, culture, heritage, music and dance. Furthermore, acting as a catalyst for change with job creation, development of skills through volunteerism, new or upgraded infrastructure, such as Korea’s Incheon International Airport, which opened in 2001 just before the 2002 FIFA World Cup and huge investment in spacious exhibition and conference venues equipped with state-of-the-art technology.
Not only will federations entrust the country with future sporting events but as importantly corporate meeting planners and conference organisers feel confident to send their delegates. In 2009, Korea was ranked 15th in the International Congress and Convention Association’s world rankings for international meetings.
In 2013, a new Taekwondo Park will open in Muju, anticipated to be a ‘Mecca’ for Taekwondo and an incentive destination in its own right.
The Korea Tourism Org in London is using this milestone and the run-up to the 2012 London Olympics to work in partnership with Sport Taekwondo (UK), which is the performance arm of the British Taekwondo Control Board, to raise awareness of Korea as the ‘Home of Taekwondo’.
Taekwondo is a hugely popular activity for tourists to experience whilst travelling in Korea and a quirky incentive or teambuilding activity.
These are exciting times for Korea’s Sports tourism sector.
Ramy Salameh can be contacted via the editor email@example.com