Monday, September 24, 2012

OECD meeting focuses on 'green' tourism

MUJU — The 90th session of the OECD Tourism Committee and the OECD/APEC Tourism Working Group Forum opened Monday in this southwestern county, North Jeolla Province, attracting tourism experts from all over the world.


 Deputy Secretary-General of the OECD Yves Leterme, second from left, speaks during the opening session of the OECD Tourism Committee meeting at a conference hall in the Deogyusan Resort in Muju, North Jeolla Province, Monday. The participants include Alain Dupeyras, far left, head of the tourism unit at the OECD Center for Entrepreneurship, SMEs and Local Development; and Isabel Hill, third from left, chairwoman of theOECD Tourism Committee. Also among them are Shin Yong-eon, fourth from left, director-general of the tourism industry bureau at the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism; and Sergio Arzeni, fifth from left, director of the OECD Center for Entrepreneurship, SMEs and Local Development.

/ Courtesy of Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism

 The meeting, co-hosted by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and supervised by North Jeolla Province, kicked off a two-day run under the theme “sustainable and green” tourism.

More than 150 representatives from 40 OECD and APEC member countries were present at the meeting.

The gathering began with the opening remarks of Isabel Hill, chair of the OECD Tourism Committee, under the presence of Korean Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Choe Kwang-shik and North Jeolla Province Gov. Kim Wan-joo.

Other key participants included Deputy Secretary-General of the OECD Yves Leterme, and Sergio Arzeni, director of the Center for Entrepreneurship, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) and Local Development of the OECD.

Choe welcomed the foreign participants during a banquet held Monday evening.

“I sincerely welcome you to Muju, which is home to the cleanest and most beautiful natural environment in the country. We are delighted to hold the OECD tourism committee meeting here at Muju where tradition harmonizes with the natural environment,” said Choe.

He stressed the importance of the opening of the committee and the significance of the theme to be discussed.

“The tourism industry is becoming more widely recognized as an important means to create jobs and invigorate the economy. Sustainable and green tourism is also becoming more important,” he said.

“The Korean government, with such a concept in mind, played a significant role in including tourism in the agenda for sustainable development at the Rio+20 Conference held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in June this year. In such a way, we are striving to contribute to developing the global tourism industry.”

He went on to say that Korea is putting its utmost effort into raising the country’s competitiveness in the tourism industry and boosting the role of tourism.

“Korea held various international events such as the G20 summit in 2010, UNWTO conference in 2011, the Nuclear Security Summit and the Yeosu Expo this year,” Choe said.

“According to statistics by the Union of International Associations, Korea was 12th in the country ranking on holding international conferences in 2008. But it reached sixth in the world in 2011 and is becoming an optimal country for developing the MICE industry,” he said. MICE stands for meeting, incentives, convention, events, and exhibition.

During the meeting, participants will discuss the tourism industry’s success cases in developed countries. On Tuesday, OECD/APEC forum on tourism will be held to discuss ways to strengthen competitiveness of the tourism industry.

During the conference, not only will participants review the tourism industry’s policies by theme, but also exchange ideas and share experiences and strategies for attracting foreign tourists.

The biannual meeting was established in 1948 to utilize tourism as a method of developing the economy. The 89th Tourism Committee met in Paris, France.


 Participants in the OECD Tourism Committee meeting watch Master Bang Hwa-sun glue bamboo sticks onto hanji, traditional handmade paper, to make a patterned fan called “taegeukseon,” at the Muju Deogyusan Resort in North Jeolla Province, Monday. Various demonstrations to make traditional artwork are on hand during the tourism committee meeting to promote Korean culture. / Korea Times photo by Yun Suh-young

Participants in the OECD Tourism Committee meeting can enjoy a variety of cultural events during the meeting held in Muju, North Jeolla Province.

On a pre-tour held Sunday, participants were taken on a four-hour tour around the venue to Mt. Deogyu, Bandi Land, and wild grape wine cave. Bandi Land is an insect museum exhibiting 2,000 species of insects. The wild grape wine cave which used to be a pumped-storage hydroelectric power plant, now stores and sells around 20,000 bottles of wine made with wild grapes.

On Monday, the first day of the tourism committee’s meeting, two cultural events took place. Masters of “taegeukseon” and “minhwa” demonstrated how traditional artworks are made.

Master Bang Hwa-sun, designated as intangible cultural asset number 10, pasted hanji or traditional Korean paper on bamboo to make taegeukseon. Taegeukseon are patterned fans with a round “taegeuk” shape in the middle representing yin and yang which symbolizes the fundamental law of nature. The pattern signifies harmony of all things in the world.

The making process involves seven intricate steps beginning with splitting the bamboo into thin and flat ribs. The ribs are then spread out evenly on paper and glued. Finally, a round shape is cut out and the edges are smoothed.

In a second demonstration, Master Han Mi-young drew “minhwa” using the traditional method.

Minhwa, or Korean traditional folk painting, has its own distinctive aesthetic qualities and historical significance.

Koreans believed that folk paintings possessed shamanistic powers to protect them from war, disease and famine and paintings of animals could drive away evil spirits.

Symbolism was used in these folk paintings to convey feelings of happiness, anger, love and delight. Humor and satire are important elements of the paintings.

Similar traditional artwork demonstrations will take place Tuesday.

Master Hwang Yeon-soon will demonstrate how to make traditional knots called “maedeup” with silk and Master Lee Myeong-soon will demonstrate making handicrafts with “hanji,” traditional paper made from mulberry trees.

Maedeup is a traditional knot used for various purposes. They were used as ornaments and decorations on clothes as well as belts and identity tags throughout Korean history. Maedeup was used across all social classes. In Buddhist temples, knots were decorated as ornaments for religious purposes.

Hanji, or traditional handmade paper, is made from mulberry tree also known as “dangnamu” in Korean. Hanji, despite its thinness, is surprisingly strong and was used to cover floors, walls, ceilings, windows, and doors. There are two types of hanji art — two dimensional painting and three dimensional sculptures much like papier mache.

After the tourism meeting is over, a night tour will be held Tuesday evening to see traditional fireworks called “nakhwa-nori” and flying of wind lamps called “poong-deung.” These lamps are made of bamboo and hanji and are believed to make people’s wishes come true.

On Wednesday, a technical tour is scheduled for foreign participants to take a tour around Jeonju Hanok Village and the Saemangeum Seawall, the longest manmade dyke in the world stretching 33.9 kilometers.

The Jeonju Hanok Village is a living traditional village that serves to preserve Korean traditional houses from the late Joseon Kingdom. The village features old streets as well as the buildings. There are various cultural activities visitors can experience.

The village is located in Jeonju, North Jeolla Province. Jeonju used to be the capital city during the ancient Baekje Kingdom and later became the birthplace of the Joseon Kingdom’s cultural renaissance.

At the hanok village, visitors may taste bibimbap (rice mixed with vegetables) famous in the region. 

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