Visitor talks: Mayor Vanessa van Uden welcomes South Korean ambassador Yongkyu Park to Queenstown last week
The South Korean ambassador to New Zealand has thrown diplomacy to the wind by backing the controversial Milford Dart tunnel.
Visiting ambassador Yongkyu Park says the proposed bus tunnel, that’ll take more than five hours off the return Queenstown-Milford Sound road trip, will appeal to Koreans.
“I think it will help a lot, especially for the Korean people where we want to travel very fast,” Park tells Mountain Scene during a stay in Queenstown last week.
“We only spend a few days [in NZ].”
South Koreans are used to rapid train and road transport, he says.
“We eat fast, we travel fast.”
Prior to taking a five-hour bus trip to Milford last weekend, Park said he was starting to feel tired just thinking about it.
“Sometimes I feel that of course you want to preserve your pristine, clean and beautiful nature as it is, but I think many [Korean] tourists, they also want convenience, comfortable journey,” he says.
“I think 10 hours’ bus ride from here to Milford Sound and back is a bit too much, personally – but it’s up to you, you have to decide.”
Park’s comments coincide with a comment by Milford Dart managing director Tom Elworthy in last week’s Inside Tourism: “Of particular importance is the recent finding by Tourism NZ’s Asian visitor survey that the strongly growing Chinese market in particular does not like long bus trips.”
It’s expected Conservation Minister Kate Wilkinson will have the final say on the tunnel project later this year.
Meanwhile, Park says Korean visitor numbers to NZ – about 60,000 a year – have been affected by the high Kiwi dollar.
The global financial crisis may have had an effect too, he notes.
More than 10 million Koreans a year travel abroad, half to other parts of Asia, Park says.
“There is still room for growth in the number of Korean tourists coming to NZ.”
Park says Queenstown is well-known to Koreans but stands to benefit from a new memorandum of
understanding with Korea’s wealthiest city, Ulsan.
When travelling one must adjust their attitude a little. Sorry, but some things worth doing take time.
19 Sep 2012 06:28PMkindblogger
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