Mysterious tourism boom in Yeosu
Aug 17, 2017
A panoramic view from the observatory at Dolsan Park / Yeosu City Government

Officials struggle to understand why tourists flock to the coastal city

YEOSU, South Jeolla Province ― There is no doubt that Yeosu, with its beautiful shoreline and exotic dishes, is a cool city to visit.

Even so, a recent tourism boom there has many people scratching their heads, including those who promote tourism in the city.

“It used to be a quiet place. The lights were turned off in the early evening and few people would walk the streets late at night. But now, the scene has changed a lot,” said Kim Kwang-joong, director general of the Yeosu City Government's tourism department. “And frankly, we do not know why everyone has suddenly fallen in love with Yeosu.”

In 2009, the number of visitors to Yeosu was 7 million. This year, it is expected to surpass 15 million, up more than 20 percent from 2016.

One reason, the official noted, might be the 2012 Yeosu Expo, which attracted fewer visitors than expected but nevertheless helped the city improve infrastructure and its brand image. The hit song, “Yeosu Night Sea” by Busker Busker, which was released the same year, could be another factor.

“But they do not fully explain why the city keeps drawing so many people from all across the country and overseas. There is something mysterious about it,” said Kim Sang-wook, a senior PR official at the city government.

A city that doesn't sleep / Yeosu City Government

The rapid increase in the number of tourists has brought lots of money to the city ― but also many troubles.

According to a recent survey by the Yeosu Residents' Association, more than 21 percent of respondents said they would like to move to another city because of the increasing number of tourists. Also, more than 75 percent of them said their lives have become less convenient because of issues such as heavier traffic jams and illegal parking.

“Minimizing the problems that come along with the benefits of tourism is one of our most important tasks,” the official said. “And Yeosu is one of the very few, if not the only small city seriously concerned about the problem.”

Busking and night views

Street musicians and night views are among the city's biggest attractions.

Partly because of the song, “Yeosu Night Sea” by Busker Busker, many street musicians have moved there in recent years to make it one of the hub cities for busking culture.

To make their performances part of Yeosu's appeal to tourists, the city government has held the annual Yeosu International Busking Festival since 2015.

This year's event, which was held from Aug. 4 to 6 across Jongpo Marine Park, ended with a bang after drawing 60,000 people.

Don't be disappointed if you missed the event: there will always be buskers in that area.

After sunset, colorful lights scatter across the bridges and streets next to the beach in Yeosu. Although Jongpo Marine Park is a great place to enjoy the views with moody music, the city also has plenty of other spots.

One of the best viewpoints is the observatory at Dolsan Park, where you can have fantastic views of Dolsan Bridge, the Port of Yeosu and the coastline.

The Yeosu Maritime Cable Car, which runs 1.5 kilometers from Dolsan Park to Jasan Park, is also great to try. It offers breathtaking views of the ocean from as high as 98 meters.

Source:The Korea Times

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