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‘We need to move ahead with a positive mindset & be future ready’

The ongoing pandemic has made everyone think differently and look beyond what is available currently. Taking due cognizance, Korea Tourism Organization (KTO) has carefully selected some new experiences and destinations to entice Indian travellers. With rapid vaccination drives across India and the Indian travellers’ sheer penchant for travelling, I am hopeful that the coming year will bring in new opportunities for all of us, says Y G Choi, Director, KTO, New Delhi Office, in an interaction with Prasenjit Chakraborty

Q. KTO jointly embarked on a project in India with TravelBiz Monitor called Korea Premium Travel Consultant (KPTC). Could you tell us the details of this project?

KPTC is the ongoing initiative by KTO since 2019; it connects us with the travel agent partners on a pan India level and provides advanced level destination knowledge, so that the partners can cater to all types of travel queries of their customers.This programme aims to grow a network of Korea specialised travel advisors, who are highly skilled with diversified information about South Korea destination knowledge. KTO has collaborated with TravelBiz Monitor as a Knowledge Partner to execute this all-India exercise.

Q.What message do you want to send to the travel trade fraternity in India through this initiative?

The travel industry has been most affected by the current prevailing pandemic. The travel partners need to have a new perspective to sell the destinations. We need to move ahead with a positive mindset and be future ready to make up for the lost time and meet the new set of demands from the customers.With rapid vaccination drives in India and Indian travellers awaiting their long due holidays, I am positive that the coming year will bring new opportunities for all of us. Korea has already opened its gates to travellers from select countries this month onwards. Any traveller, who is fully vaccinated with a WHO-approved vaccine, is exempted from quarantine. A
similar plan is being considered for Indian travellers. Hopefully by the end of the year we will be able to welcome Indian travellers to South Korea.

Q.Which destinations or products will be highlighted through this programme?

Our aim is to train the trade fraternity about every tourism destination and product of South Korea, but the theme we will be focusing through this programme would be regional locations, luxury travel and special interest tours like industry visits.

Q.In the changed circumstances how important is creating an innovative itinerary to infuse confidence among travellers? What is KTO’s plan in this direction?

The way of travelling will definitely change in the future. From a destination selling perspective, we need to be innovative and be ready to satisfy the customer with their new and essential requirements especially in terms of new experiences, safety, hygiene and contact less travel. It is essential for the travel advisors to be thorough with the destination’s offering such as unique experiences, unique accommodations and offbeat destinations which are less crowded and safer to travel in the new normal times. South Korea has been applauded worldwide for its speedy containment of the COVID-19. Our approach will focus on travellers’ safety and memorable experiences when they travel to Korea. We will ensure that a robust and tourist friendly infrastructure is available for the travellers on ground.

Q.Using the pandemic time, have you added any new product /products?

The pandemic has definitely made all of us think beyond what we currently have. KTO has handpicked some new experiences and destinations to promote among Indian travellers, which will entice them to travel to the destination. Once South Korea opens, for leisure and FIT travel we would be focusing on more regional and offbeat experiences which take people away from the busy destinations. Apart from that we would be focusing on luxury travel where the most premium offerings in South Korea will be offered.

Q. Keeping India’s vastness in mind, which zones or territories will be your focus as of now?

Our KPTC project is virtual in nature; we are inviting participation from travel agents from all over India, so it is not region specific. This is a unique opportunity for any interested travel agency to get specialised and focused training on destination South Korea.

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