Skift Take

The K-Pop video unintentionally set off an incredible case study in which soft power boosts tourism for a region, but we've quickly seen that you don't have to be in South Korea to use it to market your travel product.

The Korean Tourism Organization must have started salivating as they watched Psy’s YouTube phenomenon reach hundreds of millions of viewers around the world. The most-viewed video on YouTube has been watched over 834 million times, which looks a lot like dollar signs when you’re sitting on the board responsible for driving tourists to South Korea.

Mr. Lee Charm, Head of KTO, was quoted as saying, “If only one percent of them said, ‘Hey! What is this place, where is it? I’ll go there.’ – that will be already about four to five million people, and so of course we will use that.”

KTO hopes that the video will boost tourism to the region by its peak tourist season in the spring, but who else is turning that now world-renowned jig into a profit?


British Airways’ new route from London to Seoul was originally scheduled due to demand from business travelers, but the airline has seen an unexpected boom of interest from leisure travelers looking at the destination.

AirAsia incentivized flyers to buy a domestic flight between November 20–25 to win free tickets to the “Gangnam Thailand Extra Live Concert” in Thailand on Tuesday night.


Australian-owned Hotel Novotel Seoul Ambassador Gangnam is offering accommodation and tour packages inspired by the video at the request of its management headquarters in Australia. The hotel group will advertise the packages on their hotel websites throughout Australia, where Gangnam fever hit hard.

The Hyatt Regency in Jinan, China celebrated its own anniversary with a recreation of the video featuring the entire hotel staff. The business hotel is popular for hosting meetings and conventions.

Tour Agencies

Tourism agencies within Seoul are customizing Gangnam Style tours that take travelers to the sauna house, horse stable, and other scenes straight out of the music video.

The city itself is planning to turn Gangnam into a destination for music lovers with K-Pop performers on the streets, a new concert hall, and a sidewalk transformed into its own “Gangnam Walk of Fame.”

Global Parodies

The video is have a reverse-tourism effect in Hawaii, where the islands are trying to position themselves as Gangnam-friendly attract Korean tourists. Even a small town in Vermont has hoped the contagious dance will help boost holiday shopping. Seriously?

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Tags: british airways, south korea, tours

Photo credit: Traffic on a clear day in the Gangnam neighborhood of Seoul. Lamoix /

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