As a part of its post-pandemic tourism recovery plan, on March 1, 2021, KTO signed an MoU with the Educational Tour Operators Association (ETOA) for a 2-year long-term plan. This plan aims to develop tour products for schools, universities and other educational institutes for international field trips and study tours.
School group tours from India to South Korea were growing at a rate of more than 200 per cent per year till the end of 2019. The destination offers unique learning experiences like visiting local schools, industrial visits to internationally renowned companies like Samsung, Hyundai, LG, KIA and team-building activities like learning Korean martial art, Taekwondo. A variety of theme parks, ancient palaces and modern skyscrapers make it an ideal destination for both the learning and enjoyment of students. Indian and vegetarian food is easily available in Korea, which is an added bonus when it comes to student tours.
ETOA is an upcoming association of tour operators established in 2015 in Mumbai. It focuses exclusively on educational travel and has more than 200 member agencies, who together handle almost 400,000 students every year for international trips.
Both organisations established contact in early 2021 and after a series of discussions, found it mutually beneficial to collaborate and develop a new destination.
Even after regular travel starts, safety and hygiene will remain the top priorities for these tours. South Korea has been one of the success stories in the world in managing the COVID-19 outbreak. The country has the protocols and infrastructure in place to scientifically monitor the situation. This makes South Korea one of the safest countries to travel to in a post-pandemic world.
As a part of the MoU, both partners will be extensively involved in regular destination training, product development and developing exclusive resource material for ETOA members. KTO will also be negotiating special incentives for ETOA members and seek to avail benefits from Korean Embassy for student visas. Once travel restarts, a top-level ETOA delegation will visit South Korea to experience the product and give inputs for further fine-tuning of the program to make it ready for Indian schools and universities.
The MoU signing authorities cum official spokespersons had the following to say:
“I am excited to work with ETOA to make South Korea the No. 1 choice of Indian schools and universities for their international field trips. Korea is one of the safest countries in the world and also one of the global leaders in technology and manufacturing. It is the ideal destination for students to know and learn about the future. By the end of our MoU team next year, I am confident we will have a fully developed self-sustaining Korea travel product category.” – Young Geul-Choi, Director, KTO New Delhi Office
“ETOA is happy to be a part of this MoU by which all our members dealing in international educational tours can benefit. Our clients are always asking for different experiences and we need to be ready with new offerings for their new preferences for post-pandemic travel. I think South Korea can be that next destination for ETOA members.” – Sharukh Shroff, Secretary ETOA
“This collaboration demonstrates our common desire to promote Edu. Tourism among the youth. As we all know, promoting tourism especially for the educational sector, is a major priority, not only for the South Korean organisation but also for the ETOA. I would like to take this opportunity to assure you that the ETOAI will do whatever it can in order to provide successful implementation of this MOU.” – Prashant Andhalkar, President ETOA
In addition to student travel, KTO is also preparing its plans for post-pandemic travel for FIT, MICE and GIT travel segments.