The K-pop and Hallyu boom have brought more foreign tourists to Korea, and the services for those tourists are evolving to meet all their needs! Let's check out how visiting Korea has become easier for everyone.
Incheon Intl. Airport is the gateway to Korea.
As of August, roughly 6 million foreign visitors came to Korea in 2011. In particular, over the summer months of July and August, over a million foreigners came to Korea through Incheon International Airport.
As the number of foreigners coming through Incheon International Airport rises, the customs service at the airport is changing to fit the needs of foreign visitors.
[Interview : Lim Eun-ju, Customs officer
Incheon Intl. Aiport
] "Many tourists from abroad have difficulties at customs when they first arrive in Korea. To help foreigners with the customs process, Incheon Intl. Airport provides interpretation services in 8 languages other than English."
These are the Green Cap interpreters, who can be identified by their green uniforms.
They move throughout the airport, looking for foreign tourists who may be in need of their interpretation services.
The Green Cap service mostly helps tourists from non-English-speaking countries get through customs declaration.
Interpreters from multicultural families are on duty 24 hours a day, in shifts.
Airport services are important, because this is where foreign visitors form their first impression of Korea. The Green Cap Service is now offered at Incheon, Gimpo, Gimhae, and Jeju international airports.
[Interview : Haidaw, Green Cap interpreter] "I help foreigners from Russia and Mongolia who cannot speak Korean."
[Interview : Bayarmaa, Green Cap interpreter] "I am helping foreign tourists fill out the declaration form for customs."
[Interview : Sakai, Tourist
Japan] "The interpreters are very kind. It's a nice service."
[Interview : Valenkina, Tourist
Mongol] "I can get information about how I can get to my aisle."
[Interview : Park Il-chun, Tourist
] "It was hard for me to fill out a declaration form because I don't know Korean. My interpreter filled it out for me instead. I was very grateful."
Visiting Korea becomes even better when it starts with a welcome in a familiar language.
The Green Cap service can be found in airports, but if you need help out on the streets, keep your eyes open for RED- that is, the Red Moving Tourist Information Centers!
Dongdaemun is the center of Korea's fashion industry, as well as one of the most popular destinations for tourists.
The Moving Tourist Information Center is a tourism information service that can be found in 8 major tourist attractions throughout Seoul.
[Interview : Kim Nang-ju, Team chief
Moving Tourist Information Center] "We are Moving Tourist Information Centers. We are giving tourism information to foreign tourists."
[Interview : ] "Usually, four of us work in one area. We team up in pairs and work in one-hour shifts."
The Moving Tourist Information Centers are present in Busan as well! So far, the responses are great.
[Interview : Han, Tourist
All Moving Centers are certified interpreters and guides.
[Interview : Naoko, Tourist
] "Japanese, OK, very good."
[Interview : Haru, Tourist
] "I think this kind of system is very good."
[Interview : Micky, Tourist
] "It's my first time here in Korea and I think it is very helpful."
[Interview : Henry, Tourist
Canada] "I think it's the first time I've seen such a system. I think it's very good."
[Interview : Kim Jung-hwa, Staff
Moving Tourist Information Center] "If you experience any difficulty while touring, look for Moving Tourist Information Centers wearing red hats and red clothing! We will do our best to help you."
[Interview : Gu Bon-sang, Chief of Tourism
Seoul Metropolitan Government] "In the past, we only provided tourism information at fixed information centers. Now, in Seoul, information guides move around tourist attractions finding tourists who need their help. This service is the product of long discussions about how we could help foreign tourists enjoy a more convenient stay here in Korea."
But Seoul is not the only place to go in Korea!
We see ten foreign tourists getting on a bus leaving Seoul for Gyeonggi Province, another great place for tourism!
This is not a bus for group tourists, but for individual travelers.
[Interview : Yang Myung, Tourist
China] "I'm going to a traditional folk village with my girlfriend. We can't wait."
[Interview : Tasha, Tourist
Philippines] "I'm happy I'm here in Korea and we're a part of this tour."
The bus, which goes from Seoul to major tourist destinations in Gyeonggi Province, runs even if there is only one person scheduled to ride.
The Gyeonggi Province City Tour Bus arrives at the Korean Folk Village, a major destination in Gyeonggi Province! It's only an hour's drive from Seoul, but it had been difficult to visit without being a part of a large group.
[Interview : Ahn So-hee, Tour guide
Gyeonggi Tourism Organization] "There are many foreign visitors who come to Korea on personal trips, but experience difficulties because of language and transportation when they come to Gyeonggi Province. To help tourists visit Gyeonggi Province more conveniently, Gyeonggi Tourism Organization has created a pick-up service that goes directly to where tourists are staying."
Korea is filled with picturesque scenery and a rich cultural history! Now, new services are being created to help foreign tourists enjoy these experiences with more convenience and ease.
Today, even tourists who come alone or in pairs can enjoy the benefits of a group tour.
[Interview : Jessica, Tourist
] "I like the tour because the price is very reasonable, especially for foreigners. The bus is there to pick you up, the directions are very simple, as to where to be, what time to be there, and the tour guide is very, very helpful."
It's becoming easier to come to Korea.
[Interview : Gen, Tourist
] "It's very helpful. It's a nice tour because we understand everything the tour guide says. Everything's on time, everything's orderly, we had to run just to catch up with people, so I guess that's how it is here in Korea."
Services in Korea will continue to evolve to meet new demands and needs, to make Korea a memorable country worth visiting, and visiting again.
What great services. Have you been impressed with how easy it is for tourists to get around Korea Yeah. The subway system is really great I've heard.
Also there are many guidebooks and magazines that have great tips.
Not to mention all the websites and blogs. There's never been a better time to visit.