The number of local and foreign tourists visiting a world heritage site in Suwon, south of Seoul, has been on a sharp increase this year owing to the city’s aggressive promotion efforts, a report released on July 25 said.
Earlier, the city designated the year 2016 “Visit Suwon Hwaseong Year.” The UNESCO-designated cultural heritage site Hwaseong Fortress was built by King Jeongjo, the 22nd monarch of the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910) to celebrate his filial affection and innovation.
According to a city’s interim report on the initiative, the number of visiting tourists stood at 3,073,407 in the first half of this year — 2,328,843 locals and 744,564 foreigners. The figure was up 1,444,000 or 88.6 percent from a year ago, the report said.
Aiming to attract 7 million tourists this year, the city has been staging various efforts to promote Visit Suwon Year since the latter half of last year. As a result, 20.8 percent of the total population was aware of the city’s special year, with 71.2 percent of the city’s dwellers recognizing it, a city official said. The city figure is a sharp contrast with a mere 17.7 percent in the second half of last year.
In January, the city arranged an academic forum to shed light on the king’s ideology and philosophy and to promote the historic meaning and value of the fortress at home and abroad. On top of that, the city held a variety of events, ranging from concerts, an Asia model festival, an aviation science exhibition to K-pop concerts to attract visitors, and developed tour programs in cooperation with local and foreign tourist agencies.
The city also improved lodging facilities, modified traffic facilities in a tourist-friendly way, and upgraded service infrastructure, including menus and food apps. Next month, the city plans to introduce new tourist vehicles, including a train, helium-filled balloons and bicycle taxis.
The reenactment of King Jeongjo’s pilgrimage to Yunggeon Royal Tomb, where his father Sado is buried, in the fall will be the centerpiece of cultural programs to mark Visit Suwon Year. In 1795, the King Jeongjo, accompanied by a 6,000-strong entourage, embarked on an eight-day trip covering some 50 kilometers from Changdeok Palace in Seoul to Suwon Hwaseong to celebrate the 20th anniversary of his reign and the 60th birthday of his mother.