Shopping bonanza kicks off next week
By Lee Hyo-sik
Korea will kick off its largest annual shopping festival for foreign visitors on Jan. 9, which will last for 52 days through Feb. 29, as part of its efforts to turn itself into an Asian shopping hub and draw over 10 million tourists from around the world in 2012.
Under the slogan ``Korea Grand Sale 2012,’’ organized by Visit Korea Year, nearly 22,900 department stores, shopping malls, hotels, restaurants, duty free shops, theme parks and other hospitality-related establishments will participate in the nationwide campaign, offering foreign visitors up to a 50-percent discount on various merchandise and services. A year earlier, about 13,000 businesses took part in the sales event in Seoul, Busan and other top tourist destinations across the country.
``The 2012 Korea Grand Sale will not just be a shopping festival. Unlike sales events organized by Hong Kong and other countries, the Korea Grand Sale will offer foreign tourists a chance to experience exciting hallyu, or Korean wave, content on top of special discounts,’’ said Hong Ju-min, the secretary general of the Visit Korea Committee. ``Part of the sales revenues will be donated to a range of projects to support multicultural families. This year’s sales event will be a great opportunity for foreign visitors to learn about and experience Korean culture and hospitality.’’
Hong went on to say that the committee will do its best to offer the best-quality services and plenty of benefits to those who visit Korea during the campaign. ``The sales event will also help improve Korea’s image among foreigners and transform the country into one of the most popular shopping-oriented tourism destinations.’’
Shopping combined with hallyu
Foreign tourists visiting Korea during the 52-day period can obtain a wide range of discount coupons and membership cards, which can be used at retailers, restaurants and other businesses here, at Incheon International Airport and other airports here, as well as at major tourism sites, retailers and promotional street vendors.
Among a range of planned sales and promotional activities, the committee will hold a special welcome event at Incheon International Airport on Jan. 9. Foreign tourists will be given lottery tickets and can instantly win complimentary hotel vouchers, free concert tickets and souvenirs. The event will last through Jan. 15. They can also take photos with Pororo, a mascot of the ``2010-2012 Visit Korea Years.’’
On Jan. 13, an opening ceremony of Korea Grand Sale 2012 will be held at Doota Shopping Mall in Dongdaemun, one of the nation’s popular shopping districts for foreigners. The ceremony will showcase an array of performances to entertain shoppers.
Additionally, a series of promotional events will be organized at larger retailers during the festival.
Foreign shoppers who visit Hyundai Department Store can experience a Korean wedding ceremony. They can borrow a wedding dress and tuxedo free of charge, and take a wedding photo.
Those who visit Shinsegae Department Store and Lotte Department Store will be given lottery tickets. Prizes include air tickets, free hotel stays and a Korea Pass.
Foreign shoppers can also watch K-Pop stars’ perform in person. More than 1,000 foreign visitors will be invited to the 21st High-One Seoul Music Awards, which will be held at the Olympic Gymnastics Arena in southern Seoul on Jan. 19 in celebration of Visit Korea Year. Many other performances by K-Pop stars will take place during the Korea Grand Sale.
The Visit Korea Committee also plans to organize a bazaar and an auction. The revenue earned through the charity event and auction for the items donated by famous entertainers will go to helping migrant wives visit their hometowns and establishing a scholarship fund for children from multicultural families. Koreans, as well as foreign visitors can participate in the bazaar and auction.
``The 2012 Korea Grand Sale will be a more fascinating festival with shopping and exciting Hallyu content,’’ Hong said. ``We are going to continue developing more diverse content and carrying out marketing activities in order to develop the Korea Grand Sale into one of the world’s most unique shopping festivals.”
Transportation and accommodation
During the Korea Grand Sale, a free shuttle bus (Seoul-Busan and Seoul-Jeonju) will be available for foreign visitors from Tuesday to Sunday in a bid to bring more tourists into areas outside Seoul. Foreign visitors who book the KTX bullet trains through the Korea Visit Year’s website (www.visitkoreayear.com) can receive up to a 30-percent discount.
The Gangnam District Office will also operate a free shuttle bus, which will stop at major shopping spots such as Myeongdong, Dongdaemun, Cheongdam-dong and Apgujeong three times a day every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.
The one-more-night program, which offers a free night’s stay, is available at over 40 hotels across the country to foreign customers who stay for three to four nights. During the Korea Grand Sale, they can also receive special discounts in hotel restaurants and use other facilities free of charge.
In addition, foreigners who visit Korea Grand Sale’s official website (www.koreagrandsale.or.kr), and solve quizzes and leave comments will be given a variety of gifts through a prize draw. For more information on Korea Grand Sale 2012, visit the committee’s website at www.visitkoreayear.com, or call 02-720-7343.