For Tiroler ski, Muju Korea is Austria’s top export project

Last week we spent some time at Muju (무주) Ski resort in S-Korea. An Average area, with 25km of beginner and advanced ski slopes – aimed to host the 2010 winter Olympics, including four ski jump’s, fun park and half pipe. But that wasn’t what struck me most. It was the export of culture in this multi-million dollar ski resorts in the far east that blew my mind. Note before I continue: Obviously, this is a positive review. It’s probably the Korean eye for service for a great price that will demise this place to a packed tourist place within a few years, complete with screaming children, angry visitors and high prices… oh, well. Although the resort was sold to a US consortium for 130 million dollar in 2001, it struck to me how well the Austrian’s packaged and consigned the ski experience to Korea; including tiroler management and staff. Austrian’s have been doing this for over 15 years in Asia, with some minor projects in Korea, Japan, India and China.

Austrian styled:Tirol (!) Hotel, condo’s, castle,spa’s, Apres ski facilities. Austrian exported: beer,Austria Snow Sports Academy, Swiss/Austrian (Doppelmayr) made Funitel and Hybrid lift’s.,Ski rental gear, Ski/Snowboard gear (from sweaters to helmets), Preparation bully’s (I counted five, but their should be more), Artificial snow machine’s,Ski lights, slope accessories etc.

Finally, I few things that I noticed while out there:

  1. A lot of Korean, but also Chinese and Indian visitors, many of them can board/ski very well
  2. The resort guests are very friendly to each other, I’ve seen people bow to each other after a collision on the hill.
  3. Unlike in the Alps, professional gear is not equal to skills on the slope.
  4. I’m used to hit the slopes early, continue until four in the afternoon and then go Après-ski, but for a land with shopping malls close at 5am, the slopes are available for 18 hours a day, starting at 6:30.
  5. Excellent service at the resort, free warm tea handed out by Korean girls wearing German clothes, tissue dispensers around the slope
  6. Our hotel room was quite space-full, not to oexpensive, and we had a calming view on the slopes from our bed

Dutch culture trade in Korea, or Korean trade in the Netherlands? Jealous of the austria’s project opportunities (My German aczent © sucks), I started looking what the Netherlands (my homecountry) could export (and monetize) on. Koreans and Dutch embassy diplomats mentioned that Dutch are famous for their tulips, (cliche I know)… But putting up tulip show’s is big business, and the Netherlands is one of the rare area’s where the bulbs come from. Proof of concept can be found in Shanghai, where a 100 hectare (3 times bigger then the annual one in The Netherlands) tulip show is being held for the 6th time this year. What other concepts could do well in Korea? Football related events (All Korean men know the Dutch football team, but for that goes that most Shanghaiinese do as well) and beer – a beerfest? (there are German Beerhof’s spread around the country), Dutch artifactual buildings, like the one (although close) in Japan (pictures), what else could do well? I think that for project developers, there are more Korean trades to be ‘sold’ to Europe these days, including common things like Jimjilbang and Samgyeopsal; both increasingly popular in the US. Also, the concepts of restaurant ringers – allowing one to order or get bill with a button on the table, video on demand and key-less doors are things that should be standardized in European countries by now.