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   09-13-2010 16:44 여성 음성 듣기 남성 음성 듣기
[HS] Mayor promises foreign business-friendly environment

Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon
By Cathy Rose A. Garcia

Seoul’s image as a tourism and investment hub may have improved significantly in recent years, but Mayor Oh Se-hoon is not content to let the city rest on its laurels.

During a luncheon with the European Union Chamber of Commerce in Korea (EUCCK) Monday, Oh said the city will continue to implement projects that will help achieve his goal of making Seoul rank the world’s fifth most competitive city.

``We are not complacent. We want to make Seoul more favorable for investors, tourists and expatriates so that the best quality of life can be offered to foreigners, so that they will choose Seoul instead of Shanghai or Tokyo. We will redouble our efforts to make Seoul the fifth most competitive city in the world,’’ he said.

Seoul ranked 27th in the 2006 ranking of the world’s most competitive cities and currently ranks ninth in the latest 2010 survey.

Oh, who is now serving his second term as mayor, said the city is focusing on six growth areas for Seoul: design, fashion, tourism, digital content, conventions, and business research & development.

Under his leadership, he said there have been significant improvements in transforming Seoul into a global city. ``To make the city as one that is loved by the world, this is closely related to its competitiveness,’’ Oh said.

The government has heavily invested in tourism infrastructure and implemented reforms to make it more attractive as a tourism destination.

Oh cited the reduction in hotel room prices from an average of $567 a night in 2006 to $332 a night in 2009, as well as the introduction of international taxis with a translation service and English street signs.

Seoul also stepped up its brand marketing activities to boost awareness around the world, with a series of TV commercials featuring honorary ambassador and ice-skating star Kim Yu-na.

``Seoul’s attractiveness as a tourism destination improved, recording an increase in visitors despite the worldwide economic downturn,’’ Oh said.

To promote the city as a business hub, Oh said four areas, Sangam Digital Media City, Magok, Yongsan International Business District and Yeouido International Finance Center, are being developed.

Digital Media City has been described as the world’s first digital content media complex and is expected to be completed by 2015. Magok district is known as an eco-friendly, h-tech industrial complex, while Yeouido is being billed as the future financial district hub for Northeast Asia.

Despite delays in the $28 billion Yongsan International Business District development project, Oh remained confident it will push through, though it won’t be completed until around 2017 or 2018.

The Korean government provides various incentives to foreign investors and guarantees remittance of profits. Foreign-invested companies, whose businesses enhance the competitiveness of Korean industries, will be able to receive tax reductions. There are also foreign investment zones which offer tax and duty free exemptions for certain businesses.

According to Oh, the metropolitan government has also made life easier for foreigners living in the city, with the establishment of the Seoul Global Center, Seoul Global Village and Seoul Global Business Center.

The Seoul Global Center is a one-stop center for expatriates who need assistance in various aspects of their life in Seoul, such as banking, tax, legal counseling and mobile phones. The global business center assists foreign entrepreneurs and businessmen with setting up a company in the city.

There are more international schools and medical centers in Seoul that cater to foreigners. English-language services are also being provided through the 120 Dasan call center hotline (dial 120+9 for English), and the 1399 medical interpretation hotline.

All these efforts have been successful, according to Oh, who cited a 2009 survey conducted by the Seoul government, showing the steady increase in satisfaction of foreigners living and doing business in the city compared to previous years.

Seoul has been designated as the World Design Capital 2010 and recently, as a UNESCO City of Design, in recognition of its cultural heritage and creative potential.

``This has added further momentum to establish Seoul as a city of creativity and design... We will earmark a special budget for these activities to elevate Seoul’s brand image as a design city. We want to nurture design as a lifestyle,’’ Oh said.
Reader's Comments
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Bad language will not be tolerated. All comments considered discriminatory against race or sex, or which are considered offensive against certain people, will be eliminated by the manager. Violators will be deprived of their membership.
Please stay on topic.
Cerberus   (   09-14-2010 13:46
only 332 a night for a hotel room? what a bargain! also, a good hundred dollars of that lower dollar rate is simply due to the innate crappiness of the Korean won.
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