by Esther Faith Lew | August 01, 2017
Songdo Convensia in Incheon

Beyond the dramas and heartthrobs, South Korea gets the pulse racing in its quest for top ranking as a MICE destination of choice, hitting the no. 1 spot with 997 meetings in 2016, an increase of 11.9 percent over the previous year's, according to UIA's latest report. 

Propelled by the strong performance of Seoul, which maintained its 3rd place with 526 meetings in 2016, South Korea is seeing a surge in MICE activity in up and coming cities that are gaining popularity for their unique appeal. 

South Korea builds up the momentum with its participation in the inaugural Asia Business Meet 2017 organised by Northstar Travel Group and SACEOS, held from July 25 to 30 at Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel. Asia Business Meet 2017 brought together a carefully curated group of 49 buyers from the US, Europe and Asia with a select line-up of 30 suppliers from Asia Pacific.

Presenting at the event was Seoul, which remains the evergreen contender with its vibrant appeal and status as a UNESCO City of Creative Design, showing that it is getting the formula right in attracting convention delegates. From transportation, accommodation, and communications to its creative and cultural attractions, the city meets the brief in many ways

Other cities like Incheon get serious in making a statement as a certified low carbon and green city for MICE and remain focused in courting medical conferences. It is also South Korea's first free economic zone. Busan and Jeju are the other top cities in South Korea lending strength to the country's ranking.

Also participating at the Asian Business Meet was the blue-eyed boy Gyeonggi, which offers nature, culture and technology in abundance. MICE wise, its 108,049sqm Korea International Exhibition (KINTEX) facility accommodates 100,000 pax and is the largest in South Korea. Kintex has flexed its expertise in hosting many international events, and together with 15 new unique venues, offer an attractive meeting proposition for planners. The bureau has also been highly proactive and flexible in customising packages with planners. 

"We met great buyers from Europe and the US; and we generated a handful of leads from the one-day business meeting," said Lee Jee Eun, deputy director, meetings & incentives, Korea Tourism Organization.

Buyers at Asia Business Meet 2017 expressed interest in South Korea's high-technology infrastructure and reputation for being an incubation hub for technology companies headquartered in key cities.