Pyeongchang Hosts its First Peace & Sustainable Development Forum and the Third Francophonie in Motion Hike
As Pyeongchang county is commemorating the first anniversary of the 2018 Winter Olympics and Paralympics, the timing seems just right to seat and think about the contribution of those Games to the host region, and particularly the socioeconomic development of local communities.
On March 30, 2019, one month after its Global Peace Forum 2019, PyeongChang city hosted its first Peace & Sustainable Development Forum at Woljeongsa temple, in partnership with the International Charity Foundation (ICF) and Millennium Destinations, under the theme “Peace, Sports and Sustainable Tourism”.
Commemorating the first anniversary of the 2018 PyeongChang, the biggest Olympics and Paralympics ever, the Forum was designed as a venue to discuss about the PyeongChang Olympic Legacy Development Plan and sustainable development through sports and tourism, as well as sharing experiences and cases of cities around the world with the participants,
The event started with welcoming remarks by Mr. HAN Wang-kee, Mayor of Pyeongchang and Amb. DHO Young-shim, Chairperson of ICF and UN SDGs Alumni, and a keynote speech of H.E. Mr. YOO Jin-ryong, Former Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism of the Republic of Korea. This was followed by questions and comments by the participants, and an active debate on how peace and prosperity could be promoted through sustainable cultural, sports and tourism experiences.
The Forum was attended by an international audience of over 100 participants from across the world, including the Ambassadors of Egypt, Lebanon and Romania to South Korea and representatives of the Dutch and Norwegian Embassies. Many issues were raised about the necessity to focus on quality over quantity and value over volume while avoiding the risk of overtourism, in order to preserve the unique culture of the local communities and their natural environment.
Catherine GERMIER-HAMEL, Founder & CEO of Millennium Destinations mentioned that most Western tourists were unlikely to travel long distances to practice winter sport activities in South Korea or even its neighbors. She added that PyeongChang should rather be branded as a mountain destination offering all-year-round activities, such as hiking and cycling, while emphasizing the distinctive assets of Korean mountains. 70% of the Korean land is covered by mountains, and many Korean Buddhist temples are located in mountains and are surrounded by beautiful forests, which make them the perfect places for spiritual retreats, and connection with nature, towards mind and body healing for example through templestay or forest therapy.
On the other hand, tourists from South East Asia might be attracted by an exotic combination of snowy landscapes and fun activities in South Korea during winter.
The event also included visits of Olympic facilities, as well as a Templestay program offered by Woljeongsa temple.
On March 31, all participants, together with the Mayor of Pyeongchang and local residents, joined the "Francophonie in Motion" hike, or Randonnée "Francophonie en Mouvement", on the Sunjae trail of Odaesan mountain, organized by Millennium Hikers. This event was part of the official program of the Fête de la Francophonie, an international celebration of French language through culture, sports, and business events. Fête de la francophonie has been celebrated annually in South Korea since 2009.
"My mountain is your mountain": created by Millennium Destinations, Millennium Hikers is a Seoul-based group of hikers / trekkers / walkers around the world who care about their social, environmental and economic impacts on destinations, while co-creating, promoting and sharing unique, community-based experiences between local hosts and their guests in mountain destinations.