Korea Tourism Organization hosts vegan tour companies
Bibimbap, Gimbap, and Tteokbokki, are dishes that most vegans may not have the opportunity to enjoy when traveling, but four vegan travel providers were able to experience this and so much more on a recent familiarization trip to South Korea. The educational journey was organized by Korea Tourism Organization (KTO) from October 10th -19th, 2022
“South Korea is known for amazing food, rich culture, history, and friendly people. Recognizing that vegan food and Temple cuisine are often overlooked, KTO organized a special fam trip for selected vegan travel providers to experience first-hand all that Korea has to offer to the vegan traveller,” said Jaesok Park, executive director at the Korea Tourism Organization, New York Office.
“Very often vegan travellers are overlooked,” said Brighde from World Vegan Travel, a Canadian tour operator organizing luxury vegan group tours around the world. “Despite paying the same price as other travellers they often do not get the same high-quality food experience and pay for activities that are against their core values, especially at the high end of the market. The fact that the Korea Tourism Organization is investing in the growing vegan market is refreshing and something we have never seen before.”
Donna from Green Earth Travel has been working in vegan travel as a travel advisor for more than 35 years. “I was not expecting much from the vegan familiarization trip as too many countries in Asia do not have many vegan options. I was pleasantly surprised by how the Korea Tourism Organization is promoting vegan travel. It will be a breeze to send my clients to Korea.”
“Vegans traveling to Korea, with advance notice, will be well taken care of and they will experience top-notch and welcoming hospitality,” said Kim Giovacco from Veg Jaunts and Journeys, a US tour operator that to date organizes tours in Europe and the US.
Starting the trip at the Korea Luxury Travel Mart (KLTM) in Seoul, the participants connected with Korean luxury tourism DMCs, luxury accommodations, traditional/modern cultural facilities, and providers to discuss possible collaborations. Participants then embarked on a six-day trip throughout Korea experiencing major cities including Yeosu, Busan, Gyeongju, and of course, Seoul. The highlights of the visit included a morning at Jingwansa temple where visitors learned a little of Korean Buddhism, the temple stay experience, which is always vegan, and enjoyed an 18-dish feast comprising of about 50 fruits, vegetables, roots, and leaves, as well as a tea ceremony.
“I left this temple, after spending time with our Buddhist nun guide, filled with positivity and peace. Our 30-minute walking meditation through the beautiful grounds, situated in a national park, was very relaxing.” Another special moment was a visit to Bulguksa Temple in Gyeongju displaying relics of Buddhist culture from the Silla kingdom. The beautiful UNESCO heritage temple showcased fall foliage in the background.
The vegan travel service providers enjoyed the highlights of Korea and focused on temple food which is always vegan, choosing vegan restaurants and non-vegan restaurants that catered to the group for this event. “One of my favorite restaurants in New York is Korean, called Hangawi and it was wonderful to taste Korean food at the source – the use of fresh herbs such as minty Perilla leaves or the use of Bracken ferns – both in traditional Korean and Western dishes – impressed me the most,” says the owner of vegan food tour operator Vegan Tours NY, Verena Erhart.
“I had never considered running a vegan tour to Korea. Now, I cannot wait to collaborate with new friends and partners in Korea to show vegans a stress-free vegan vacation in this incredible destination that aligns with their values,” added Brighde. “We were welcomed as very special guests wherever we went,” noted Kim of Veg Jaunts and Journeys. “I lost count of how many 10-course lunches and dinners we were served!”
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