ZaiSeoul, a South Korea-based travel site for Chinese tourists, secured a $680K investment from K Cube Ventures on July 31, 2014. Jae Young Jang, the co-founder of ZaiSeoul, hopes that the investment will accelerate the startup’s expansion into China’s tourism market.
According to the Korea Tourism Organization, more than 12 million tourists visited Korea in 2013, resulting in total revenue of 19.6 billion dollars. The number of visitors is up from a mere 5 million a decade ago. Although the tourism sector only accounted for two percent of South Korea’s GDP in 2013, the industry is expected to show a strong growth.
ZaiSeoul targets the Chinese demographic that makes up about quarter of the total tourists in Korea. The website provides information that will be useful for visitors traveling individually, rather than as part of a group tour. In addition to getting access to travel tips and restaurant/café recommendations, visitors can book accommodations and find a travel guide using ZaiSeoul’s one-to-one matching service. Visitors can also post and view comments, as well as recommend travel spots or travel packages.
ZaiSeoul originally started by publishing travel magazines that featured coupons specifically aimed for Chinese visitors in Seoul. In three years, ZaiSeoul published more than one million copies. According to Jang, both the database of travel information accumulated over the years and the company’s close understanding of Chinese market will be the key to ZaiSeoul’s success.
ZaiSeoul’s performance in comparison to other Chinese outbound travel agencies is yet to be determined; however, ZaiSeoul offers services that challenge those outbound counterparts. The main difference is that ZaiSeoul provides in-depth information pertaining only to Seoul. With 2 million followers on ZaiSeoul’s Weibo, the website is gaining positive reception for its users.
The recent investment seems to be yet another indicator of the company’s projected success in the market. Jung Shin-A, who led the investment from K Cube Ventures, expressed confidence regarding the company’s potential.
“ZaiSeoul, thanks to its previous forays that dealt with Chinese visitors to Korea, shows an impressive understanding of Chinese tourists and possesses close ties with China’s market,” said Shin-A Jung.