Catherine Luck from Hong Kong arrived at the Bokwang Phoenix Park in Gangwon Province after staying one day in Seoul. She came to Korea on a six-nights seven-days tour with an itinerary that includes Seoul, Gangwon Province, and Jeju Island.
“I’m captivated by the winter scenery. Learning to ski is hard, but fun enough not to feel cold,” she said. She added that this was the first time for her to be in the snow and learn how to ski and that she’s planning to come back again next winter for a longer stay on the slopes.
An ever-growing number of foreign tourists like Ms. Luck are coming to ski resorts in Korea. After the Korean Wave hit Southeast Asia, ski resorts have been seeing an increasing number of tourists from Southeast Asia where snow does not fall. Winning the right to host the 2018 Winter Olympics has resulted in attracted more visitors from Russia, Europe, and North America.
Jung Kyeong-moo, the overseas marketing manager for Youngpyong Ski Resort says that snow conditions affect downhill velocity and that slopes with only natural snow reduce glide, and hence speed. Even though the hills are shorter, the ski slopes in Korea induce much better glide than those in Russia, Canada, and Northern Europe where there is more natural snow. Furthermore, advanced technology generating artificial snow and mixing it with natural snow and top of the line facilities, including state-of-the-art gondolas have contributed to the popularity of Korean resorts popular among skiers and snowboarders especially from Greater Asia.
Comfortable and pleasant hotels and condominiums equipped with all amenities and recreational facilities, including a water park, are comparable to ski venues elsewhere. Foreign visitors point out that one of the merits of Korean resorts is that the slopes are very conveniently located to where they are staying.
Breduk Yulia from Russia said, “Everything is great, high-quality slopes, a variety of ski runs, and attentive services. I'm really satisfied.”
‘Fun Ski & Snow Festival’ magnetizing foreign tourists
Gangwon Province and the Korea Tourism Organization (KTO) have developed tour packages specifically tailored to foreign tourists, including popular K-Pop concerts that complement the skiing. From December 2-4 last year, a three-day extravaganza called “Hallyu Week Concert” was held at Daegwallyeong-myeon, Pyeongchang-gun drew 5,000 tourists from China, Hong Kong, and Japan. The overseas visitors stayed an extra night after the concert and went skiing at Yongpyong Ski Resort.
“Including K-Pop concerts in tour packages for winter sports, like skiing has proven to be popular for foreign tourists,” said a Gangwon official, “The provincial government offers various winter tour packages for regular tourists as well as for school field trips from China and Southeast Asia.”
‘Customized marketing’ has been actively practiced. The KTO jointly held the annual winter sports travel package “Fun Ski & Snow Festival” along with the Gangwon Provincial Government, Yongpyong Resort Ski & Snowboard, and High1 Ski Resort. The festivals ran from December 15, 2010 to March 6, 2011, during which a ski travel package was made available to skiers from Chinese speaking countries, Southeast Asia, and Russia. For international visitors, a variety of events and promotions were offered during the weekdays when the resorts were less frequented by domestic skiers.
Itineraries of four days and three nights included skiing and snowboarding lessons with professional instructors, hands-on experience programs, traditional dance performances, and non-verbal shows. There were special promotions throughout the festival, including discounts for young children, contests and awards, giveaways, and Hanbok (traditional Korean clothing) dressing events.
Korea's three major ski resorts hosting the 2018 Olympic Winter Games
Asia's Mecca for Winter Sports Yongpyong Resort
Since it first opened in 1975, Yongpyong Resort has been come to be known as “Korea’s Ski Mecca” and has contributed to the development of winter sports in the country, including sking making them popular among the general public. The resort has successfully hosted three world competitions so far – the World Cup Ski Competition in 1998 and 2000, and the Winter Asian Games in 1999 – and has built a reputation among skiers and foreign tourists for its world class facilities. The Rainbow· Red· Silver · Gold slopes were authorized by the International Ski Federation (ISF). The resort offers many winter sports, such as alpine skiing and snowboarding. Yongpyong Resort added Dragon Park in 2002, the nation’s first terrain park, attracting snowboarders from around the world who are into extreme winter sports. Yongpyong Resort hosts the Fun Ski & Snow Festival every year in partnership with the KTO. It also offers ski lessons from professional instructors. www.yongpyong.co.kr
Main venue of the 2018 Winter Olympics Alpensia Resort
Alpensia Resort will be the main venue of the 2018 Winter Olympic Games and it is transforming itself into a new Mecca for winter sports. It will host the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2018 Olympic Games and be the venue for six events, including the ski jump and cross country skiing. Besides boasting state-of-the-art sports facilities, the resort also features a wide range of facilities for vacationers, such as a convention center, concert hall, water park, golf course, and accommodation. The resort also has wide and gentle ski slopes that are perfect for beginner and intermediate skiers and snowboarders. The ski jumping tower is one of the best in the world. The tower simultaneously serves as an observatory offering visitors a breathtaking view of Alpensia and the nearby mountains. Its Water Park Ocean 700 is the largest indoor water sports complex in Korea, featuring a wave pool, kid’s pool, and bathing pool as well as the Camel Back Slide and Tornado which are outdoors. www.alpensia.com
Phoenix Park becomes popular with free-style snowboard Bokwang Phoenix Park
Bokwang Phoenix Park, locaed in Pyeongchang, Gangwon Province, was selected as the official venue for six Winter Olympic events. It has several courses for every level of skier. One of the main features of the resort is the Panorama Course that runs for 2.4 km at a width of 85 meter. It boasts a wide-range of slopes that are unparalleled. It is also the only slope in Korea where even beginners can ski from the top. All of the courses meet international standards, and have been officially certified by the International Ski Federation. For foreign visitors, BoKwang Phoenix Park offers ski lessons in English and Japanese. It also runs a shuttle bus from Seoul (4 stops at Jamsil, Nowon, Isu, and Hongik University Stations). Aside from the ski slopes, leisure water park, the Blue Canyon with sparkling water, blue sky and exotic valleys are sure to help visitors make unforgettable memories. www.phoenixpark.co.kr
*Article from Korea Magazine