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Gangjin all out in luring tourists with its rich natural, man-made resourcesAn interview with Governor Kang Jin-won of Gangjin County

Having designated 2017 as the ‘Year of First Visiting Gangjin in Southwestern Region’, the Gangjin County government is actively endeavoring to attract tourists by leveraging its rich resources, including beautiful landscape, historical and cultural assets, agricultural, marine and livestock products as well as its unique emotional marketing activities. In addition, it is carrying forward ingenious and innovative 4 core projects as future growth drivers. Under these strategies, the County is invigorating the regional economy led by Governor Kang Jin-won. With a belief that citizens are the top resource and competitiveness, the County government is actively developing human resources. The Korea Post recently interviewed Governor Kang Jin-won of the County to hear about successful progress and significance of the ‘Year of Visiting Gangjin. Excerpts from the interview follow.-Ed.

Governor Kang Jin-won of the Gangjin County

Question: The County is bustling with tourists. Successful launch of diverse projects of the ‘Year of First Visiting Gangjin in Southwestern Region’ is expected to attract waves of tourists throughout the year.
Answer:
Right. Along with the balmy wind of spring, the County is thronging with visitors. Despite overall recession, this region is exceptionally enjoying booming economy. According to statistics estimated by the municipal government and industry, tourists who visited the County as of the end of April increased by 68%, sales of celadon wares rose as much as 496% and direct sales of local food products increased by 58% over the same period of last year. On April 2 (Sunday) alone, 11,000 tourists visited the beautiful Gaudo Island, a part of the County which is connected to the mainland by a suspension bridge and has several historical remains. A zip track that was installed in October last year to provide spectacular views over the ocean was popular among tourists, and the Maryang Nolto Fisheries Market opened in early May was visited by more than 10,000 tourists in a few days, gaining over KRW100 million(approx. $89,000) in sales.

Q: A series of festivals being held in the County are also giving luster to the regional economy.
A:
Since early days of this year, the County has been hosting a series of festivals each month in different localities – tour to winter sea in January, tour of stories on soybean and rice cake in February, spring picnic in Mt. Wolchul in March, and the festival of feat and long arm octopus in April. These festivals held in the first three months attracted more than 10,000 tourists, suggesting a new potential. Held for two days in early April, the festival of feat and long arm octopus was visited by some 15,000 tourists who bought and consumed feat, long arm octopus and other local agricultural, marine and livestock products in value of over KRW220 million (approx. $196,000). Sites of these festivals were installed with Korean native beef stores and rice cake shops, contributing to invigorating regional economy. As visitors increased, sales at restaurants and accommodation facilities rose around 30% than last year. Other tourist attractions in the region, including the house where scholar Jeong Yak-yong lived in exile hundred years ago, Goryeo Celadon Museum, Korean Folk Painting Museum and ecological park, were also surged by visitors. Thanks to diverse festivals, fisheries market and tourist attractions, entire areas of the County are bustling with tourists in the year of visiting Gangjin, enabling us to seek new ways of increasing sales of local agricultural, marine and livestock products.

Q: Would you please explain four core projects of the County government?
A:
Based on emotional marketing strategy, the County government created the unique brand of floating fisheries market, Maryang Nolto Market, that opens on every Saturday. The market sells fresh, top quality and affordable marine products. Benchmarking Branson, Missouri, the County built a city of music connected with foods marketplace. The promote musical arts, we are providing a variety of music-related programs, such as support for musicians’ communities, emerging singers, busking and music contests, while establishing a music creation center. The unique FUSO (feeling-up and stress-off) experience is also gaining popularity. Seven thousand tourists made reservations for FUSO experience in this year and 120 farming households are taking part in this program. With participation by 310 farming and fishing households, the direct transaction support center, a delivery service system, raised over KRW1.5 billion (approx. $1.07 million) in this year.

Q: Your County has successfully attracted large scale projects for receiving support from the central and provincial governments, such as the Public Officials Training Institute of Jeollanam-do Province and Southern Region Food Culture Festival. What is the strongest competitiveness?
A:
I believe human power is the strongest competitiveness. No matter how good a policy is, it is formulated by men and implemented for men. We will concentrate our efforts on developing regional resources and unprecedented creative policy to change impossibility to possibility and turn crisis into opportunity. A tree takes 3~4 years to grow and bloom flowers and another 4~5 years to bear abundant fruits. Yet, we are committed to eventually harvesting fruits with citizens.

Lee Sung-won  edt@koreapost.com

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