Turisme de Barcelona launches the first face-to-face action in Southeast Asia presenting Barcelona city in Korea

 Monday, September 5, 2022 

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Last week Turisme de Barcelona has carried out its first face-to-face promotional action in the Asian market with a trip to Korea where the director of promotion, Mateo Asensio, will present Barcelona to sixty operators, with various commercial visits arranged with the most important operators in Seoul to target a strategic market that is opening up as health measures relax and connectivity reactivates.

Turisme de Barcelona’s action in South Korea is part of the Barcelona City Council’s institutional economic promotion trip to strengthen business and innovation relations with Korea, and the inauguration of Korean Air’s first direct flight. As emphasised by the Director of Turisme de Barcelona, Marian Muro,”the trip to Korea is one of the many actions Turisme de Barcelona’s taken since the pandemic for a market as strategic and important as the Asian market”. In this case, “the entire agenda of contacting with operators is focused on the premium segment with a presentation of the main novelties of Barcelona and a poster of the cultural offer endorsed by the Fundació Joan Miró on the occasion of the exhibition “Joan Miró: Women, Birds, Stars” at the MAMU Museum in Seoul”.

This action is part of the Consortium’s strategy to maintain Barcelona’s presence in the Asian market, which is very important in terms of the level of spending, and which fits in with the objectives of a type of quality tourism, respectful with the environment and interested in the culture and identity of the country they are visiting. Muro reminds that “Turisme de Barcelona, within the framework of the strategic lines approved to influence the Southeast Asian market, has carried out more than 22 actions so far this year, including workshops, webinars, fam trips and training sessions for outbound agents. In addition to opening new digital communication channels such as WeChat or Tik Tok more recently”.

 The success of the different actions, such as a Webinar on Chinese tourism with speakers from the sector that brought together more than 200 participants, confirms the interest that Barcelona awakens among Asians. A Webinar was held with Korea to analyse the situation in the South Korean outbound market, inviting operators and exploiting the different offers from European countries as part of a strategy to present the offer from the European continent.

The presentation of the Barcelona destination by the consortium’s Director of Promotion, Mateo Asensio, will take place on Wednesday 31st at the My Art Museum (MAMU) in Seoul, in an event that will count with the participation of the city’sCommissioner for Promotion, Pau Solanilla; Joan Miró  Foundation’s Director, Marko Daniel; the MAMU’s Director, Taegeun Yi; and the Ambassador of South Korea, Guillermo Kirkpatrick de la Vega.

At the presentation, the Consortium will show the main novelties of the city with all the cultural and architectural offer, the design, the musical activity, the events, as well as the great gastronomic and commercial offer of Barcelona for a very demanding public, especially interested in shopping and gastronomy.

The Korean visitor meets the standards of a quality tourist who consumes culture, spends the night in top-of-the-range hotels and appreciates nature, gastronomy and shopping. Its market share is still low at the moment, highly dependent on connectivity, but with a tendency to grow by more than 1%, reaching pre-pandemic levels. In terms of spending, visitors from South Korea spend three times as much as the average visitor to Barcelona, which stands at €82.3 per person, while Korean tourists spend around €426. According to the data from Global Blue’s Tax Free, the VAT refund for South Korean tourists in Barcelona in 2019 was in fifth place in the ranking of this tax for non-EU tourists, 20.5% higher than the previous year, with China, Argentina, the USA and Russia topping the list.

It is the market that has stood out the most in the last five years, increasing 4.5 times the number of arrivals to Catalonia. In 2019 there were 9 direct connections from Incheon airport (Seoul) to Barcelona, while 2 airlines currently operate 2 and 3 direct flights a week from Barcelona, to which the first direct flight of Korean Airlines, with three weekly frequencies, will be added on September 2nd.

While Korea is gradually opening up and working to obtain more direct flights to Barcelona, in China the situation today is a timidly opening as the measures applied are relaxing, though the regulations are still very strict in comparison with most countries. The latest news show a certain relaxation of these measures, with which: “the promotional actions are intensifying in a strategy of moving forward and targeting a market that is still emerging in our destination (2.7% market share)”, with an average expenditure that doubles other nationalities, being the first in volume of expenditure, even ahead of the USA and Russia.

This is the first trip and the first face-to-face action in Asia after Covid-19, with a mission organised jointly with the Barcelona City Council in which commercial visits will be made to the most powerful operators in Seoul together with Turkish Airlines, and with the idea of organising a Fam Trip in November, which will be combining Morocco-Barcelona.

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