Spotlight on South Korea - Edition 4
27 June 2022
In your last update, you shared insights into your plans to support recovery from the Korea market. Please update us on how this is tracking.
Many positive news developments occurred in the last few months. Korea finally lifted its travel restrictions completely on 21 March. Consequently, Koreans pent-up travel demand is surging, and we are hearing positivity in the travel industry as travel agencies are swamped with travel enquiries and employees who were in hibernation started to return work.
Tourism Australia launched its Instagram for the Korean market in March 2022 and has already reached 6,000 followers who are actively and positively engaged.
In May, were able to bring Korean buyers to Australia for the first time in three years to attend the Australian Tourism Exchange (ATE) Live event. Watch the Korean buyers highlights here. Korean buyers also participated in ATE Online. Following ATE, we hosted an ATE networking dinner reception at the Hotel Dragon City Accor’s trendy rooftop bar in Seoul. Held outdoors, it was the first no mask event since Korea’s COVID-19 restrictions were lifted, with more than 70 guests enjoying the opportunity to reconnect and for some, the chance to meet face-to-face for the first time.
How is consumer sentiment towards travel? Are there any booking trends emerging, relevant to Australia?
All existing national tourism organisations in Korea have resumed activities to increase travel to their destinations. With fierce competition among travel destinations, Tourism Australia has been very active in Korea to draw more attention to Australia and make the destination their choice for a holiday. As part of our re-opening campaign initiatives, we ran extensive digital media advertising while unveiling conversion activities in partnership with airlines and key distribution partners.
Koreans have a strong tendency to be influenced by celebrities in their choice of holiday destination. Reflecting this trend, we hosted a media visit of Korea’s top actress, Han Jimin, in Australia. A total of 10 crew members including videographers and photographers together with actress Han were invited to Australia to create inspirational travel content which also included Vivid Sydney. Content was shared through Tourism Australia channels in Korea and Han Jimin’s own social media. The press release of Han Jimin visiting Australia earned extensive media coverage from over 30 media outlets.
As more Koreans shift to being free independent travellers, a high percentage of Koreans obtain travel information and book tour products via online travel platforms. To take advantage of this opportunity, we rolled out the Australia Yours to Explore campaign with KKday and three state tourism organisations including Destination New South Wales, Tourism and Events Queensland and Visit Victoria. Through this campaign, we selected key influencers who experienced each state and shared content via their social media channels. In addition, we had KKday develop over 20 new tour products and travel content across which was featured on KKday’s website and social platforms.
As the pandemic eases high-yield travellers are the first to resume travel and they expect high-quality product and unique experiences. The Aussie Specialist Program in Korea highlights these trends by hosting interactive seminars focusing on traveller experiences. In addition to bi-weekly online sessions, we hosted face-to-face training sessions twice in collaboration with state and territories in market where Korean Aussie Specialists were able to get together and learn Australia’s food culture.
Korean travelers now have high expectations for travel and are looking for new experiences. With so many new or evolved products in Australia, we hosted key distribution partners on two familiarisations in May and June to showcase a sample of these experiences. The familiarisations were designed to inspire partners to include new experiences in their post-pandemic itineraries and increase their confidence in selling Australia.
Though we are a small team, we maintain strong relationships with our South Korean trade partners and keen to be the bridge to connect all of our industry partners throughout Australia with them, so feel free to reach out to us so we can extend our support to grow the market together.
How do you anticipate that Korean market will perform as travel resumes?
Normality is slowly returning in Korea, but some restrictions remain such as mandatory COVID-19 testing prior to re-entering the country. Further barriers to travel include limited aviation capacity, rising fuel prices and inflation. Nevertheless, Koreans are historically resilient travellers, and we expect the Korean inbound market to Australia will recover rapidly. Australia’s well-established image and beautiful nature will attract Koreans who prioritise safety when considering their next holiday.
With an increase in travel confidence among consumers, airlines have resumed flights to Australia. Currently, there are six direct flight services a week between Korea and Australia with Korean Air and Asiana Airlines. Both airlines will increase to four flights a week from July and operate a daily service from October, whilst other airlines have announced the launch of new flight services between the two countries. In particular, after a suspension of 14 years, Qantas Group’s new flight services from November will allow us to promote more dispersed regions from the Sydney gateway.
What in-market events and activity are you planning?
The Korea team secured a mega-sized TV broadcast reality program to be filmed in Australia featuring diverse travel themes with participation of Korea’s A-list actors and actresses. When the TV episodes are aired from October, we will work with key distribution partners and airlines to promote related tour products and drive conversion.
Australia Marketplace Korea will take place on 26 and 27 September. The event is an opportunity for representatives from the Australian tourism industry to establish business relationships with key travel agencies, wholesalers and tour operators from South Korea. It’s the first marketplace event in Korea for a decade and we look forward to welcoming Australian operators.