US$24m booster shot for South Korea’s tourism industry

Armed guards with mask in traditional period costume standing at the entry gate of Deoksugung Palace, a tourist landmark

The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism and the Korea Tourism Organization (KTO) have earmarked 29 billion won (US$24 million) for an accommodation-centric discount coupon programme, as part of efforts to boost the tourism industry reeling from the impact of Covid-19.

Under the scheme, one million discount coupons will be distributed to accommodations – including hotels, resorts, guest houses and motels – across the nation from August 14, reported The Korea Times.

A discount coupon programme rolled out by South Korea’s government aims to stimulate domestic tourism consumption; royal guards at the entrance of Deoksugung Palace in South Korea pictured

Of these, 200,000 coupons offer 30,000 won discounts for accommodations costing under 70,000 won, while the remaining 800,000 coupons offer 40,000 won discounts for those more than 70,000 won.

Citizens are entitled to one discount coupon each when they book accommodations via 27 online platforms, including Yanolja, Interpark, Gmarket, 11st and Myrealtrip, according to the report.

The coupons are valid for use during the off-peak travel season of September and October, it added.

However, the report cited officials from some travel agencies as lamenting that the programme is not effective in helping them to ride out the crisis.

An unnamed official from a Seoul-based OTA was quoted as saying that the company will suffer “a deficit” by joining the programme, as participating travel agencies have to shoulder 10,000 won per coupon.

In response, a culture ministry official told The Korea Times that four times as many discount coupons for accommodation costing more than 70,000 won have been issued, as compared to those under 70,000 won, adding that this will ease the burden on travel agencies.

The programme is expected to stimulate domestic consumption amounting to about 567 billion won, according to the official.

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