A delegation of senior representatives of Korea's tourism industry visited Israel this week in a bid to increase public awareness of the country as an enticing tourist destination. Their trip coincided with the annual International Mediterranean Tourism Market represented by 30 different countries at the Israel Trade Fairs and Convention Center in Tel Aviv.
Korean Ambassador to Israel Kim Il-soo hosted an event on Wednesday for senior embassy staff and representatives of the Israeli and Korean tourism industries. The meeting focused on ways to increase the flow of tourists between the two countries.
The ambassador stressed that while there is very close Israeli-Korean cooperation in areas such as Hi-tech, strategy and trade, in terms of tourism "Korea is at the very bottom of public awareness." He also noted that the majority of Koreans are pro-Israel.
The number of tourists that visit Israel from Korea is larger than from any other Asian country. In 2012, some 40,000 Korean tourists visited Israel, while just over 12 thousand Israeli tourists vacationed in Korea.
An embassy spokesman emphasized that many South Koreans identify with the history of Israel and the bookshelves of numerous family homes hold a translation of the Talmud.
Il-soo expressed hope that the tourism fair, where Korea shared a stall with Korean Airlines, would enable the Israeli public and professionals in the tourism industry to deepen their familiarity with Korea.
He said he hoped they would discover that "it is not only a country that produces sophisticated cellphones and cars, but also a country that offers a rich culture, that combines old and news, traditional and modern, alongside nature reserves, peaceful islands, exotic cuisine and a rich history."
This year marks the 51st anniversary of diplomatic relations between Israel and Korea, which share the same 1948 birth year.