Korean envoy welcomes proposed Cebu-Jeju direct flight

Korean envoy welcomes proposed Cebu-Jeju direct flight
ALLIES. South Korea holds its first-ever Korea Festival in Cebu at the SM Seaside City on June 15 to 16, 2024. South Korea and the Philippines are celebrating this year’s 75th year of healthy diplomatic relations. / SM SEASIDE CEBU

Korean ambassador Lee Sang-hwa lauded the plan of Jeju Island and Cebu Province to connect both prime destinations through a direct flight.

If materialized, this move will further boost tourism arrivals between the Philippines and South Korea.

South Korea remains the top tourist source market for the Philippines with arrivals of 546,726, as of April 24, 2024.

“The memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed between Cebu and Jeju symbolizes our commitment to greater people-to-people exchange and mutual growth,” said Lee during the Opening of Korea Festival Cebu last June 15.

Cebu and Jeju Island signed an MOU on June 14 with cooperation starting with tourism, including the establishment of direct flights.

Jeju Island is South Korea’s honeymoon destination. Cebu, on the other hand, has been recognized as a top wedding destination in Asia.

Philippine passport holders are eligible to enter Jeju Island visa-free. Filipino tourists can enter the island with stay for up to 30 days.

Lee was in Cebu to celebrate South Korea and the Philippines’ 75th year of healthy diplomatic relations.

“Our friendship has grown stronger and more vibrant over the decades,” the envoy said. “The Philippines offers endless opportunities for exploration and connection. We are committed to reaching out to as many cities as possible to share the beauty of the Korean way of life while fostering new partnerships and collaborations.”

South Korea held its first-ever Korea Festival in Cebu at the SM Seaside City.

With the theme “K-Culture Next Door,” the ambassador said, “Like neighbors just a doorbell away, our nations are closely connected through friendship, cooperation and community.”

“Cebu is not only a world-class tourist destination but, as home to one of the oldest cities of the Philippines, it is a place rich in history and culture. And as home to about 10,000-strong Korean community, it is a place to build livelihood and friendship among Koreans and Filipinos. In that sense, this event is not just a celebration; it is a testament to our enduring friendship and future partnership filled with promise,” Lee said.

Recovery rate

Department of Tourism (DOT) officer-in-charge Undersecretary for Tourism Development Verna Buensuceso said the celebration in Cebu is a significant milestone knowing that South Korea is the no. 1 international tourist market of the Philippines, including Cebu.

“We value the strong and enduring friendship which resonates profoundly in various aspects of our relations, including in commerce, investments, tourism and people-to-people exchange,” said Buensuceso.

According to the DOT official, the recovery rate of the Korean market stood at 72 percent last year since the Covid-19 pandemic. Over two million Koreans visited the Philippines in 2019.

“Koreans come here for leisure holidays, for sun and beach, for sightseeing, diving, golf and Mice (meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions) and to learn English,” she said.

The DOT also lauded Cebu and Jeju Island for the signing of the MOU, saying this will strengthen and deepen the relations between the two countries.

The University of Cebu Dance Company performed during the opening activity. The group was hailed as the “Best Folkloric Dance Troupe” during the 2012 Korean World Travel Fair and Expo. Jeju Special Self-Governing Provincial Dance Company also performed. The group brought the unique traditions of Jeju Island to life. / KOC

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