BUSAN TOURISM: Expanding from the East to the West

To address this imbalance, the KTO and Busan city are working together to promote balanced development of neglected downtown and Western Busan tourism.

Maru Kim
Maru Kim

BUSAN, SOUTH KOREA – In an ambitious move to bolster regional tourism, the Korea Tourism Organization (KTO) in partnership with Busan city announced on July 2, that a series of pilot projects will be launched to extend the city’s tourism ecosystem from the Haeundae and Osiria tourist complexes in East Busan, to West Busan and beyond into the South Coast area.

The disparity in tourism between the East and West regions of Busan is evident from various statistical data. A review of the most popular tourist destinations in Busan over the past year (July 2022 – June 2023), excluding transport hubs like airports and terminals, reveals that Western Busan attractions barely feature, with Songdo Beach (located in Seo-gu, Busan) being one of the few within the top 20. The majority of popular destinations are concentrated in East Busan, including Haeundae and Gijang.

This imbalance is mirrored in the business licensing status of tourism companies. As of June this year, only about 10% of the 2,157 registered tourism businesses in Busan are located in West Busan, underscoring the stark disparity in the tourism sector between East and West Busan.

This was reinforced by the results of a survey of tourists visiting Busan in 2022, released by the city. Among the top 10 tourist spots, many were located in East Busan including Haeundae, Gwangalli, and Centum City. The old downtown areas of Jung-gu and Jin-gu were included to some extent, with the Jagalchi Market and Seomyeon area, but the only place represented from West Busan was the Gamcheon Culture Village in Saha-gu.

To address this imbalance, the KTO and Busan city are working together to promote balanced development of neglected downtown and Western Busan tourism, utilizing specialized Busan content such as night tourism and marine leisure tourism to drive the westward expansion of Busan’s tourism development.

First up is the ‘Starry Night Busan Night Festa‘, a night tourism festival that received an overwhelming response when it was first held in Yeongdo District last year. The festival is set to be expanded and held over approximately three months from July in Saha-gu and Buk-gu. Attractive programs such as the ‘Night Food Terrace’, where visitors can enjoy movie-themed foods and yachts with experts, and the ‘Night Music Campnic’ at the Dadepo Beach Park in Saha-gu, will be on offer. Detailed schedules and program reservations can be checked through the official ‘Starry Night Busan’ Instagram account (@starry_night_busan).

In addition, the 27th Busan Sea Festival will be held from August 1 to 6 at both Haeundae Beach and Dadepo Beach. In collaboration with Surfholics, a representative tourism company in Busan, the KTO also plans to operate the ‘Starry Night Busan Sunset Surfing’ program, which allows visitors to enjoy the sunset and surfing at Dadepo Beach simultaneously.

From this month, the ‘Busan Super’ pop-up store will be operated at Gimhae International Airport in collaboration with the Korea Airports Corporation and the Busan Tourism Enterprise Support Center, to support overseas market advancement for Busan’s tourism startups.

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