As experiential tourism grows, we are seeing more of the world through a different lens. We sat with Stephanie Atkinson, who has been lucky enough to travel from Australia for experiences and events all over the world, to talk about her visit to Korea during the Olympic Winter Games 2018 in PyeongChang. See why Atkinson chooses experiential tourism and what she admires most about the Korean culture.
7travel: Had you done “experiential tourism” before?
Atkinson: Fortunately I have. Sports (French Open, Summer Olympics, Formula E), Music (Tomorrow Land, EMA’s London, Byron Bay Blues & Roots Festival) and Entertainment (Sundance Film Festival). It’s my preferred way of travelling.
7travel: What is it like to see world-class athletes perform live?
Atkinson: World-class athletes come in all shapes and sizes and I’m in awe of their determination, fitness and courage. Watching the Olympic Winter Games in person gets the adrenaline going. It’s brutal when an athlete falls or gets knocked over by a competitor.
7travel: What part of your visit to Korea surprised you the most?
Atkinson: The contrast between old and new Korea and feeling safe. The airport, venues and beach were very modern and clean. When we ventured to find local restaurants or to walk the beach we felt safe. Security at events was high, but handled politely and was not intrusive.
7travel: What aspect of the Korean culture did you admire the most?
Atkinson: The South Koreans really made you feel welcome with their smiles. I’m sure it’s intimidating having all these foreigners in your city. The food is delicious - generous serves with varied, interesting flavours.
I was not familiar with South Korean music and it was a joy to listen to and watch. We were entertained during a traditional Korean dinner by a beautiful performance by three Korean women dressed in their traditional dress playing local stringed instruments. In contrast, we also had a group of four young hipsters do a fantastic high energy drum performance.
7travel: What was the highlight of your trip?
Atkinson: The Opening Ceremony was tremendous. Olympic Games host cities put an enormous effort into expressing their culture and personalities and PyeongChang didn’t disappoint. And the overall buzz, being greeted by the volunteers, witnessing the highs and lows of the athletes, enjoying the local cuisine and cultural and seeing technology being used to improve the consumer experience.