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Loudoun delegation heading to the Olympics to promote tourism, business opportunities

The 2018 Winter Olympic games may be held across the globe in South Korea, but a local delegation will be using the opportunity to travel to the games to promote tourism and business opportunities in Loudoun County.

Visit Loudoun CEO and President Beth Erickson, Robert McCollar, the business development manager for Loudoun Economic Development, Luiz Taifas, president and CEO of ION International Training Center, and Grandmaster Eung Gil Choi of USTMA will visit Gangneung City, South Korea, host of the ice events during the Olympics.

Loudoun County has sister county-city relationships with Goyang City, South Korea and a Friendship City Partnership with Gangneung City. Erickson said the relationships are designed to promote cultural exchange, economic development and tourism.

This is the third trip to South Korea for this Loudoun delegation, and Erickson said they are building upon their existing relationships with this opportunity to meet during the Olympics.

“Luiz's reputation as an Olympian and the excitement building around ION makes this a great opportunity,” Erickson said.

Erickson cited a U.S. Department of Commerce International Trade Administration survey in 2016, which showed over 22 million South Koreans - roughly one-third of the population – traveled abroad, with the U.S. being a top destination.

Koreans are generally interested in visiting museums, national parks, finding bargains at fashion outlets, playing golf, and visiting restaurants and wineries – all of which makes Loudoun an ideal destination, Erickson said. On average, a Korean visitor to the U.S. spends approximately $3,320 per trip. This translates to over $7.8 billion annually of tourism revenue from Korean outbound travelers to the U.S.

The Loudoun delegation will promote group and leisure travel to the South Koreans, will discuss ways to promote the new ION International Training Center, as well as develop an international taekwondo tournament slated for 2019.

Visit Loudoun produced a 3-minute video promoting Loudoun County to the Korean traveler which will be featured on Gangneung City's official website, official tourism site, and in their seven visitor centers during the Winter Olympics. The video features U.S. taekwondo martial arts academy founder Grandmaster Eung Gil Choi sharing what he loves about Loudoun.

Visit Loudoun also produced and translated a Korean itinerary for leisure and group travelers. This will be posted on both websites and in the seven visitor centers. Visit Loudoun worked with Loudoun County staff to design a traveling display case that will be at the Olympic complex in Gangneung City, and then permanently installed at their government building after the Olympic games.

Erickson said the delegation will be meeting with the Korean Taekwondo Olympic Committee and Korean Taekwondo Association to present invitations to the 2019 tournament in Loudoun. They will also meet with gold medalist Hwang Kyung Seon to confirm her attendance at the 2019 tournament. Lastly, the group plans to invite the president and general secretary of the Romanian Olympic Committee.

“This opportunity would not have existed without the groundwork put in place by Loudoun's economic development team, Visit Loudoun and our elected officials in partnership with our sister city relationships,” Erickson said.

The Board of Supervisors during the county's fiscal 2017 budget process allocated $20,750 in transient occupancy tax for international travel and tourism promotion, according to Visit Loudoun. That funding will be used for Olympic trip to South Korea.


I am seriously surprised and disappointed at the level of misunderstanding and acrimony regarding this business development trip. How did every commenter miss the last paragraph, where the reporter accurately states that the funds for this trip came from the hotel room tax - paid for by out of towners, not Loudouners - that was implemented in EVERY County and City in Virginia to promote tourism and business investment. The County couldn’t spend this on schools, roads or public safety even if they wanted, unless they wanted to break state law.

So there isn’t one person commenting on this story who has paid one red cent toward this trip, unless they stayed in a Loudoun hotel for some reason.

The value of reaching international visitors from around the world, not just South Koreans, to visit or invest in Loudoun is worth considerably more than the cost of this trip, which will cost a fraction of the total $21,750 the County set aside for international business development trips.

BTW - Tickets to Olympic events are not included in this trip. They would have to buy them on their own.

This should end now.

Nice that they could fit this trip in after the SuperBowl and before the Daytona500.

Do we need more businesses here? NO. Do we want more people living here? NO. Do we want more visitors here? Only if you own a hotel. Do we want our tax money spent on misguided junkets like this. NO. NO. Do we want our tax money spent on any junkets, anywhere? NO. NO. NO.

Disgusting use of our tax dollars.  Drain the swamp.

This is something all of us should agree on!  Honestly don’t even know what to say, I am simply fuming.  Third trip to SK?!  Where else are they vacationing on our dime?!

How stupid are we?  Here we are having spirited debates about school funding, roads, infrastructure, growth, spending, etc, etc, and yet THESE YAHOOS are nonchalantly traveling the globe on our dime in the guise of “promoting tourism.”

What a scam. This work could be done outside of the Olympics scheduled. This is simply a way for Government workers to milk taxpayers.

Please tell me how watching downhill skiing from the VIP seats helps to win over business in Loudoun?

What a joke, next BOS will want another raise of $50K/year for all the wrong decision they continue to make.

“Koreans are generally interested in visiting museums, national parks, finding bargains at fashion outlets, playing golf, and visiting restaurants and wineries – all of which makes Loudoun an ideal destination”

Making them different from tourists from anywhere else on the planet…how?

What a scam and boondoggle.  A faux pretext to justify a trip to the Olympics.  Total joke.

Use the 21k to pay for a Loudoun County commercial to run in South Korea.

Here is where our priorities should be:

#1. BOS slush fund of $85M/yr: they intentionally exaggerate the cost of county expenses and underestimate revenues by a tune of $85M/yr.  These surpluses magically appear at the end of each year to be spent on goodies such as gifts to the Waterford Foundation and vague “partnerships”.  Let’s cut these out first.

#2. LCPS $40M suplus: the school board has been exaggerating its expenses by increasing amounts (latest in FY17 was by $41M).  Together with the BOS slush fund, these amount to over $120M in exaggerated funding each year!

#3. LCPS payouts to employees: LCPS has the lowest vacancy rate of any nearby/comparable district (0.6% according to their own number).  It’s over 2x lower than Fairfax.  It also has the lowest attrition rate (LCPS own numbers) and employees transfer into LCPS at 3x the rate they transfer out (LCPS own numbers).  Yet LCPS is giving out $40M in raises this year to “retain” its employees.  That is nothing more than giving taxpayer $$ to gov’t workers who have no intention of leaving.  The sheriff’s office has a challenge retaining deputies at their salary scales; LCPS has a hrd time telling so many applicants they won’t even get an interview because it’s such a coveted job.

#4, 5, 6, .... 998

#999. $20K spent on a trip to the Olympics that will likely generate some tourism travel to pay for the trip.  Note that the occupancy tax can only be used to promote Loudoun anyway so unless you want it spent on more “Visit Loudoun” Facebook expenses, I’m not sure what you would have them do with that.

Let’s focus on what matters. It’s budget season and our tax $$ are about to be showered around by politicians who think they have a right to give our tax $$ to whomever they please. The BOS should cut the tax rate by 10 cents to $0.99 and return the money to the rightful owners, the taxpayers.

County money is tight for a lot of things, but not junkets to the Olympics!  That $21K could have been a lot better spent elsewhere,

And to see the Olympics first class, on the county taxpayer’s money….

PLEASE tell me they won’t be using tax payer money for this !!!!!!

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