Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Korea attracts Muslim toursts

An article recently published in the Korea Times said Korea is working hard to welcome an increasing number of tourists from Muslim countries. Most of them are attracted to Korea after discovering Korea's charms by watching such popular Korean TV dramas such as Winter Sonata, Jumong, Jewel in the Palace, Goong, and Tae Wang Sa Shin Gi/The Legend on local TV. However, the lack of halal restaurants outside of major populations centers like Seoul and Busan is hampering Korea's attempts to be hospitable hosts to their Muslim visitors. What are they doing about it?
To cope with the food trouble, the Korean Tourism Organization (KTO) held a sampling party of a Halal food lunchbox. ``It is `Korea-style Halal' lunchbox. As ordinary Korean restaurants do not offer Halal meat, it was not easy for Muslim visitors to try Korean foods like `bulgogi,' which they learned about through Korean movies and dramas. So, the lunchbox was designed to provide Muslim travelers with Halal food and to publicize Korean food at the same time,'' Joo Sung-hee, a KTO manager, said.
Mr. Joo also mentioned the lack of prayer facilities are also an obstacle in attracting Muslim visitors to Korea. He mentioned several popular tourist attractions that currently offer prayer room facilities for Muslim visitors, including Everland, the Korean Tourism Office and Nami Island. What's the point? Why bother trying to attract Muslim tourists? Money and cultural exchange, of course.
``We believe the Muslim market with a 1.3 billion population has good potential. We hope the lecture and the programs we offered today will help attract more Muslim travelers,'' Joo said.

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