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(2nd LD) Airbnb to focus on promoting S. Korea as must-visit travel destination

Economy 16:36 May 17, 2023

(ATTN: ADDS details of global campaign in bottom 4 paras)
By Kim Na-young

SEOUL, May 17 (Yonhap) -- Home rental platform Airbnb Inc. will prioritize its focus on South Korea this year as it promotes the Asian country as a must-visit destination for travelers, a top executive said Wednesday.

Airbnb's co-founder and chief strategy officer (CSO) Nathan Blecharczyk also expressed hope to work with local governments across the country to boost tourism in South Korea and act as a positive conduit for the amplification of Korean culture around the world.

"Korea is in the global spotlight. K-culture is running a once in a generation opportunity to grow tourism in a way that's enduring for Koreans," Blecharczyk said at a global campaign launch event in Seoul's Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP).

He said Airbnb will get even more people around the world dreaming of visiting South Korea.

In November, Airbnb added Korean traditional houses, known as "hanok," as a new category.

The number of foreign visitors to South Korea hit a record high of 17.5 million in 2019, generating tourism revenue of US$20.7 billion, according to data compiled by the Korea Tourism Organization.

However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of visitors dropped sharply to 2.5 million in 2020 and 967,000 in 2021 before increasing to 3.19 million in 2022.

Blecharczyk noted that Airbnb's tweet last year announcing a campaign to list an iconic two-story villa located atop a mountain in South Korea's eastern alpine city of Pyeongchang, a place featured in a reality program starring global superstar BTS, became the most liked tweet in the company's history. Pyeongchang was the host city of the 2018 Winter Olympics.

As part of the global campaign, Airbnb has created a special accommodation area on the top floor of the DDP for an overnight stay on Sept. 4, the eve of Seoul's fall fashion week this year, in cooperation with the Seoul Design Foundation and the Seoul city government.

The vacation rental service company said bookings will be open to anyone around the world and cost US$14 -- a nod to the 14th anniversary of the DDP's construction -- but it will select only one person on a first-come, first-served basis through reservations on its website, which is set to open at 8 a.m. on May. 24 (7 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on May. 23).

The selected person can bring one more person to stay at the DDP room to be hosted by K-pop boy group Enhypen.

A photo of Nathan Blecharczyk, co-founder and chief strategy officer of Airbnb Inc., provided by the company on May 17, 2023 (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

A photo of Nathan Blecharczyk, co-founder and chief strategy officer of Airbnb Inc., provided by the company on May 17, 2023 (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)


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