Monday, September 21, 2009

Korea Market is hot

If you are seeking a niche market in the world, I would recommend South Korea market.

As you see in the USA Today's article Hawaii tourism rejoice over S. Korea visa waiver, Hawaii has already started to lure Korean tourists by setting up Korean language website.

According to U.S. department of state website, currently 35 countries participate in the visa waiver program. S. Korea is a recent participant, reached agreement in October 2008 and enforced in the following month.

S. Koreans have been good customers for Europe, Asian beaches and Japan: I never had a day in Japan without seeing Korean tourists wandering in the city, and I can't count how many of my Korean friends and co-workers told me they had a good time in Australia, Bali, and Switzerland.  However, they didn't visit the U.S. unless they are international students because of the hassle to obtain the tourism visa, even though they feel close to the country. South Korea has culturally influence from the U.S.  and people are easy to absorb the U.S. cultural trends. They seem to see the U.S. positively.
Here is S. Korean market portfolio:
  • the world's 10th largest economy with a GDP of 18,375 USD (2007) and 49.2 million of population
  • in terms of outbound travel, Koreans enjoy much time travelling overseas, due to increased leisure time and high spending power.
  • since 1988, Korea has seen double-digit growth in outbound travel, with one out of every four Koreans travelling overseas in 2007.
  • While package holidays are dominant in Korea, an increasing number of Koreans are choosing customised tour packages and FIT-type holidays.

Then it would be easy to attract Korean tourists? Just like Japanese or other Asian market, Korea has the unique business culture and preference of trip, meaning you can't simply tap into the market with your domestic marketing skills. Their hierarchy standard is much thicker than Japan. In the last 6 years of working in Korea tourism industry, one of the major things that I learned a lot would be their style of business and their preference towards their ideal trip as well as the key contacts in the industry.

Also, language could be a barrier when you make business with Koreans. Of course they learn English at school but only a small number of them can speak good English or they feel anxiety speaking it in business occasion. It would be a big plus if you speak Korean to proceed business. Human relationship is truly important just like other Asian cultures.

It might sound a little difficult to capture Korean tourists, but it is not. The U.S has a variety of attractive tourism resources for them, and they feel close to the country because of the history and that many of them have relatives in the country. If you market the target right, the result will be seen before long.

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