Korea – A World Class MICE Destination

i-Meet has re-started destination features to assist meeting professionals as they begin to envision how, when and where face to face meetings will resume after Covid-19.

 

With over 5000 years of history, Korea is a country full of energy marrying its great history with modernity.   Following its miraculous development over the last 50 years, Korea is now the perfect example of a modernized nation that maintains its traditional culture.  As a top convention destination, it offers world-class MICE infrastructure, a safe and sustainable meeting location, a variety of unique experiences provided by Korea’s various cities, and much more.  Ranking 2nd in the UIA Global Meetings Statistics in 2019, Korea is the top preferred destination for international events.  The country’s record involves successful hosting of large-scale conventions (such as 2014’s Amway International and 2016’s Rotary International Convention), an abundance of corporate meetings, and top notch incentive travel.

Easily accessible from most major international cities, Korea as a destination provides convenience and a strategic advantage to planners in search of a location that meets their every need. Incheon International will have your guests enjoy the comfort and luxury of the World’s Best Airport (per the Airport Service Quality Award, winning for the 12th consecutive year).  With over 90+ airlines flying to 186+ cities worldwide, Korea is a great choice for your next event.  The country also has an excellent record in public safety and security.  Business travelers can walk around freely and enjoy Korea without worrying about their safety.  The country is known to fortify quality of life with high standards in public health and environment.

Regional attractions add to the vibrant spectrum of Korea as a destination with its undeniable charm.  Each location has a specialized industry, making it even more appealing with its beautiful convention centers equipped with modern facilities.  Organizers can choose the destination that best suits their needs and preferences.  Korea offers its attendees a display of world heritage sites, picturesque nature and urban landscapes.  Planners can tailor their programs for delegates to include many unique experiences, ranging from shopping to team building activities to museum tours. And when meeting (either live or remotely these days), Korea has many places (and ways) to stay connected and host your next successful event.  Furthermore, the country’s energy efficient environment makes sustainable meetings possible (for example, COEX is the first in Asia to be Gold certified by EarthCheck, they are the home to Songdo Convensia, the first LEED Certified convention center in Asia, and Korea also has a paperless system at many venues).

The future of Korea is an exciting one.  The construction of a new exhibition convention facility is set to begin in Jamsil, Seoul, on the grounds surrounding the current Jamsil Sports Complex.  Seoul Metropolitan Government plans to select the preferred candidates for negotiation in 2021 and will begin construction the following year, with an expected completion date sometime in 2025.  Located on the east side of Seoul, Jamsil is home to several key attractions, including Lotte World Tower and Seokchon Lake Park. The neighborhood is situated right next to the COEX Convention & Exhibition Center, one of Seoul’s main convention facilities.

To add, the Korea Tourism Organization (KTO) and the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism have announced an updated list of 40 Korea Unique Venues. The newly updated list includes 27 of the original venues announced at the end of 2019, as well as an additional 13 new venues, selected from a candidate pool of 85 venues.  These venues include everything from museums, to historical buildings, to outdoor gardens and much more. This year, the pandemic has had a significant impact on Korea’s local MICE industry, putting a stop on all inbound MICE activity, like much of the rest of the world. In order to keep things moving, KTO has shifted its focus to developing and updating its existing programs and venues.  With that, 27 of the original 30 venues have been selected to remain on the list, including DMZ Museum, Korean Folk Village, Busan Cinema Center, and Namiseom Island. Newcomers to the list include Museum DAH, Gyeongju National Museum, Nodeulseom, and more for a total of 40 Unique Venues.

In response to the current COVID-19 situation, the Korea MICE Bureau, under the Korea Tourism Organization (KTO), has introduced a new support program for conventions and meetings & incentives to provide extra assistance to groups affected by COVID-19.  They will expand the range of support items to include COVID-19 safety equipment (masks, hand sanitizer, thermal imaging cameras, etc.) to ensure safety and security of attending delegates. Under this new expansion, groups hosting international conventions in Korea through the end of 2020 may use the approved support funds to purchase COVID-19 safety equipment to be used during the event. In addition, a special welcome kit will be provided for all international delegates through the end of the year.  Additionally, international conventions originally scheduled to be held in Korea this year but have had to reschedule due to the virus will receive increased subsidies if a new hosting date is confirmed to fall before June 2021. Subsidies will vary depending on group size – from small to large.

Under the corporate meetings & incentives sector, groups that have cancelled or postponed their confirmed visit to Korea due to COVID-19 will receive upgraded support to the highest level (S level) regardless of group size, if a new date is confirmed to be before June 30, 2021. For groups considering or have confirmed Korea as their corporate meetings/incentive destination, extra support will be provided for site inspection visits.   Despite setbacks, the Korea Tourism Organization (KTO) – MICE Bureau is now preparing to bounce back in the later part of the year.  Out of the gate, they will organize a series of road shows across Asia to promote Korea’s appeal as a corporate meetings and incentives destination.

Korea has been on the rise in recent years as a destination for both leisure and corporate /incentive travel. The number of foreign participants visiting for corporate meetings and incentive travel last year saw a record number of international tourists to Korea at 17.5 million.   The start of 2020 has seen a sharp decrease in international visitors due to COVID-19, however Korea plans to recover from the setbacks with enhanced marketing efforts for the second half of 2020.  While things remain uncertain for now all over the globe, the Korea Convention Bureau hopes to welcome planners and attendees back with new and improved support when the time is right.  Reach out to their professionals with any questions, at anytime.  Until then, Korea will remain one of the most spirited and colorful countries in the world.

Samantha

Samantha Meloni is a senior meeting specialist and a 20+ year veteran in the meeting & events industry who contributes to industry-specific pieces for i-Meet. She currently also holds a 3 star Meeting Professional Badge. Feel free to connect with Samantha on LinkedIn, i-Meet and Ive-Been-There.

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