Noisy Korean tourists irk foreigners overseas


Foreigners are most turned off by noisy Koreans during their overseas trips, especially inside airplanes and in hotel rooms, the Korea Tourism Organization (KTO) said Wednesday.

Many also said that Koreans need to pay more attention to the customs, culture and people of the countries they are visiting.

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However, 54.6 percent of the foreign respondents said that Korea’s level of overseas tourism manners had seen improvements.

The findings came from the latest KTO survey on Korea’s level of tourism etiquette among 1,000 foreign tourists visiting here, as well as 200 Koreans, including industry insiders from airlines and tour agencies from Nov. 11 to 19.

Tourists were surveyed at the nation’s major airports of Incheon and Gimhae.

The survey showed that Koreans gave themselves a relatively high standing in overseas tourism manners, recording 3.67 on a scale of 5. However, those in the tourism industry gave them only 2.92 out of 5, indicating a discrepancy in the perception of travel manners between Korean tourists and tourism experts.

“The survey results will be used as a reference in designing campaigns to raise Korean’s level of tourism manners,” a KTO official said.

The KTO will distribute mouse pads to Koreans bound overseas with 10 suggestions to improve their behavior in visiting countries.

They include refraining from shouting or talking loudly at airports, adherence to in-flight safety regulations, not engaging in late-night card games and drinking in hotel rooms.

With the backdrop of the Visit Korea Year 2010-2012, authorities will continue to develop efforts to improve Korean’s image to foreigners, the KTO said. Around 8.5 million foreign tourists are expected to visit Korea this year.

The report was initiated to serve as a reference for the Presidential Council on National Branding in upgrading Korea’s global image.

The improvement of Korea’s overseas image is closely associated with raising “national dignity,” one of the main diplomatic issues on the Lee Myung-bak administration’s agenda this year.

A wide variety of campaigns has been initiated to increase Korean’s etiquette level befitting its economic stature.

The Korea Times is also staging campaigns to upgrade people’s etiquette. Min Byoung-chul, a renowned English-language educator and professor at Konkuk University in Seoul, has been contributing columns on global etiquette to The Korea Times beginning this year.

Asiana Airlines has been conducting a similar campaign as well since May 2009 through airing animated video clips on proper travel manners on every international flight. They are aired following the routine video clip on in-flight safety measures.

The films urge Korean tourists to behave properly by not writing graffiti or touching cultural properties, and are particularly directed toward children to get them to learn about good travel manners early in life.