As part of an extensive schedule of road shows worldwide, the Korea Tourism Organization (KTO) jump-started its U.S. promotion of the upcoming 2018 PyeongChang Olympic Winter Games (Feb. 9-25) and the Paralympic Games (March 9-18) this month in New York City.
Hosting the Winter Olympics will be sort of a coming out party for South Korea as a winter sports hub, showcasing sparkling white mountain slopes and top-notch winter sports infrastructure as the competitive playground for the world’s top athletes.
While South Korea previously hosted the Summer Olympic Games in 1988, Kang Ok Hee, executive v.p. at the Korea Tourism Organization, pointed out that ”2018 PyeongChang will be the first Winter Olympics in Asia out of Japan and the “biggest ever” with new competitions for both men and women (competing together and separately) being added, such as snowboarding big air and mass start speed skating. Overall, there will be 15 sport disciplines, taking place in 13 event venues, with 2,900 athletes, from around 95 countries, competing for 102 gold medal awards.
Alpine PyeongChang, located in the Taebaek Mountains in the eastern province of Gangwon, is known for its natural beauty and as a popular destination for hikers and winter sports enthusiasts. New fame is on the horizon, when PyeongChang steps into its role as official host to the Winter Games and site-city for the opening, closing and medals award ceremonies to be held in the newly-built stadium of the Olympic Plaza. While PyeongChang is presently a 2 ¼-hour or longer drive from Seoul, a brand new high-speed rail line is opening this July, its bullet trains connecting downtown Seoul to the Olympic Games in 69 minutes, from the Seoul-Incheon International Airport (ICN) in 98 minutes. Additionally, in the Gangwon province, a new network of roads connecting all the venues will be in place by the end of this year.
Venues for the Olympic Games are located in two main areas of the region. PyeongChang, known as the The “Mountain Cluster,” is home to most of the snow sports and embraces the ski centers of Alpensia Sports Park—hosting biathlon, para-biathlon, ski jumping, Nordic combined, cross-country skiing, snowboard big air, para cross-country, bobsleigh, luge and skeleton; Yongpyong Alpine Center—hosting alpine skiing, bobsleigh, skeleton, luge, and para-snowboard; and Bokwang Snow Park—hosting freestyle skiing and snowboard. The “Coastal Cluster,” a half-hour away and bordering the East Sea at Gangneung city, will host the ice sports: speed skating, figure skating, short track speed skating, ice hockey, ice sledge hockey and curling.
These event “clusters” are located within a 30-minute distance by car from Alpensia Sports Park; however, one expert we spoke with said it will be difficult to attend events in both regions on the same day.
Attending the KTO presentation was Robert Long, president of CoSport, which along with its sister company Jet Set Sports, has been appointed Global Authorized Ticket Reseller (ATR) by the International Olympic Committee. CoSport is already marketing ticket-only packages and ticket/hotel packages. Its Premier Packages for 4- and 5-night stays, feature accommodations at the new four-star Ramada Gangwon Sokcho (near the Coastal Cluster venues), daily events tickets, daily breakfast and lunch/dinner on some days, plus regional excursions, transportation to/from Seoul Airport and to/from the Olympic events, as well as services of the CoSport team on location. Flex Packages offer a choice between four-star and three-star (private bedroom with bath in a 2-bedroom condo in Alpensia) accommodations, along with breakfast and the flexibility to select specific events. An Individual Ticket option is also available, based on first-come first-serve basis for specific events from available inventory. All CoSport offerings are commissionable; For more information, call (877) 457-4647 or visit cosport.com.
KTO’s Kang Ok Hee anticipates that Olympic Games-goers will take time out to visit the Buddhist temples—one dating to 625 A.D.—and the small museums of Gangwon, sample the local cuisine—BBQ seems to be very popular—and of course, spend some time pre- or post-Games in Seoul. It’s possible that many Olympics– and Paralympics-goers will base themselves in the capital and commute to events using the high-speed train. Roadtrips, specialists in customized sport travel experiences, are offering top-of-the-line packages in Seoul, with a choice of two five-star hotels—the 1,100-room Lotte Hotel Seoul, which won Global Traveler’s Best Hotel in Korea Award in 2015 and 2016, and features six restaurants (one with two Michelin stars), and the 317-room Four Seasons Hotel Seoul, featuring a Michelin-starred restaurant among four others. For more information on Roadtrips, call (800) 465-1765 or visit roadtrips.com.
Roadtrips’ packages do not include tickets, which must be ordered separately from ATR Co-Sport and Jet Set Sports. For more information on the Korea Tourism Organization, call (800) 868-7567 or (201) 585-9041; or visit visitkorea.or.kr.