December 14, 2017 Katie Gainer
Ticket sales to the 2018 Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea have been concerningly slow since their onsale, and now with less than two months to go, officials are scrambling to be sure that seats will be filled at the Winter Games.
Seoulian, an organization that promotes commerce, investment and cross-cultural learning among Korean and Korea-based foreign firms, has teamed up with the Korean government in a social media marketing push for attendance. The website states:
Seoulian is working together with a government organization to organize the Pyeongchang Cheer On Party! What does that mean? You will go to Pyeongchang (we provide the transport), you will attend an Olympic event (free of charge!), and you will stay a night or two (free accommodation! We are still finalizing if we are getting a hotel or an AirDome), and party with some amazing people! Free goodies will be handed out during the event as well.
What does it cost you? Absolutely nothing! Simply upload a picture of how you would cheer for your country (for example wearing cloth with your national flag on) on your Instagram or Facebook, tag us and apply on the Google Form (Click ‘Sign Up’ at the bottom of the page)!
The Cheer On Party is open to foreigners from around the world to apply, and Forbes reports that they’ve boosted their original 200 winners to 500. Submissions have ranged from fans holding flags to simply captioning with patriotic emojis. The government seems as concerned about how attendance of the games will look on TV as in person; the site adds that “camera crews and photographers will be present during the event to document your stay and for promotional purposes.”
Slow ticket sales can be attributed to a number of factors, the biggest of all being fear of nuclear threat by North Korea, whose border lies just 50 miles from PyeongChang. Some have also noted a lack of tourism appeal to the small ski town hours from the capital city of Seoul.
Gian-Franco Kasper, a member of the International Olympic Committee and president of the International Ski Federation, admitted to French sports publication FrancsJeux, as reported and translated by Inside The Games, that he doubts European attendance will pick up for the Olympics.
“I will tell you the truth: I do not expect too many spectators at the 2018 Pyeongchang Games. The current political crisis in the region does not encourage Europeans to travel to South Korea.”
As of the end of last month, under 30% of the 1.07 million ticket target had been reached. The PyeongChang Winter Olympics had sold 315,000 tickets, with about 60% of sales coming from overseas fans. Organizers expected 750,000 tickets in domestic sale only; 124,000 had been sold so far.