By Kwon Mee-yoo
More than half of Asian tourists visited Seoul after watching commercials and television dramas of the nation's capital, according to the latest Nielsen survey of 3,200 tourists from China, Japan and Taiwan last October and December.
The survey showed that 52 percent of Chinese, 37 percent of Japanese and 55 percent of Taiwanese tourists came to Korea after watching commercials and/or dramas on the nation's capital.
Other reasons for visiting Seoul included recommendations from family or friends, attractive prices due to the weaker won and discounts on airline tickets or travel products.
The city government interpreted the results as the effect of successful overseas marketing. "It shows that Seoul's image affected the tourists in choosing the capital, more than economic reasons such as the weaker won or cheap prices", a city official said.
Seoul has placed particular emphasis on overseas marketing since 2008.
To promote its image, Seoul produced commercials themed "Infinitely Yours, Seoul" last year featuring popular singers such as TVXQ, Super Junior and Girls' Generation
The commercials were aired in China, Japan and other Southeast Asian countries as well as uploaded on YouTube.
The clips, including every commercial, were viewed more than 2 million times on YouTube.
The exposure rate was relatively high. Eight out of 10 tourists saw the commercial and some 80 percent liked them.
In addition, the city shot a documentary "Hip Korea" starring Rain
and Lee Byung-hun
, and supported the filming of hit dramas such as "Boys over Flowers
" and "IRIS"
with the backdrop of Seoul's tourist attractions such as the Cheonggye Stream and the rainbow fountain on the Banpo Bridge.
Seoul also promotes itself through sports. For instance, the city held Dream Match, a charity soccer game with players from Manchester United and singer Rain, and Seoul Snow Jam, an international snowboarding event.
Kang Cheol-won, the city's public relations director general, said the year 2010 will be a stepping stone for Seoul.
"Seoul aims to be an attractive tourist destination not only for Asia but the whole world", Kang said. "With international events such as the World Design Capital 2010 and the G20 summit in November, this year is going to be an opportunity for Seoul to leap forward".