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SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, Aug 11) – Fiji should seriously consider establishing an embassy in South Korea, says a Korean government official.

Tae Hoon-Kim, the director of the International Tourism team in the Korean Ministry of Culture and Tourism, said setting up an embassy would benefit Fiji.

He said Fiji cannot continue to rely on Australia and New Zealand and must commit itself to promoting trade and tourism in Korea.

Mr Tae said Fiji had not done enough to promote Fiji as a tourist destination in Korea.

However, the Fiji Visitors Bureau said Fiji has a representative office in Korea, managed by Ji Young Park of Smart, Potential and Driven Integral.

FVB director marketing, Cherrill Watson said the Korean economy grew 5 per cent in 2006 and unemployment fell while wages and salaries grew along with paid holidays all indicating great opportunities for Fiji tourism.

The market is serviced by three weekly Korean Air flights.

"Fiji is particularly popular with the honeymoon market and so co-operative advertising and promotions were mounted with special packages to satisfy increased demand," she said.

Mrs Watson said a television campaign in conjunction with Korean Air increased Fiji's profile as a desirable holiday destination.

Promotions and press activities emphasised certain attributes of the Fiji product such as its clean environment, exotic experiences, luxury and quality in line with the "Fiji Me" branding campaign.

Figures provided by the Bureau of Statistics showed tourist arrivals from South Korea increased from 10,339 in 2005 to 11,735 in 2006. Until June this year, there were 5182 arrivals.

Mr Tae predicted another increase this year.

"Koreans love exotic atmosphere. They love to play golf and go snorkelling. Majority of Korean tourists are young couples on honeymoon. They need to know what Fiji has to offer," he said.

Mr Tae said Fiji's reputation in Korea was "very good". He said constraints such as travel time could be overcome by the Fiji tourism industry's commitment to promotions.

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