Seoul responds to safety concerns with new measures

Seoul Convention Bureau has implemented measures focusing heavily on hygiene, safety and virtual support

Seoul: Its MICE industry has been expanding rapidly into the digital sphere, utilising virtual meeting technology even before the pandemic.
Seoul: Its MICE industry has been expanding rapidly into the digital sphere, utilising virtual meeting technology even before the pandemic. Photo Credit: Seoul Metropolitan Government

SEOUL – The Seoul Convention Bureau (SCB) has revealed a next wave of safety measures to support its newly revised PLUS SEOUL programme rolled out earlier this March, aimed at boosting the city’s MICE scene in response to COVID-19.

SCB expects the “New Norm” to focus heavily on hygiene and safety, especially in an industry where face-to-face contact is one of the fundamental elements.

To that end, PLUS SEOUL has launched Infection-free Zones – where venues are disinfected before and after events daily, and entrance screenings done via thermometers and thermal imaging cameras.

“There’re no obstacles to purchasing facial masks in Korea as they’re available in pharmacies, markets, convenience stores and online. If organisers need to have the masks ready through us, we’ll accommodate the needs,” said SCB MICE Planning Team spokesperson, Ms Hanna Lee.

In addition, under the Reassuring Package, regular services such as organising the arrival and departure of delegates, translations, insurance, reservations and more will be offered via phones so “participants feel at home” as much as possible. “After COVID-19, we predict that participants will be more careful travelling overseas, [which is why] SCB hopes to relieve some of the burdens off the shoulders of the participants…extending one-on-one services on the phone or even at the scene if there’s an emergency”. This package is available only for international conferences at the moment.

In a webinar session held by Korea Tourism Organization (KTO) on 8 June, Korea International Exhibition Center (KINTEX) representatives similarly shared how events have been going on, where all attendees have their temperatures checked “two to three times at least” before entering the site. In addition, nurses and medical personnel are on standby in the “quarantine tent”. KINTEX is located in Gyeonggi Province, about 23 km from Seoul.

Seoul’s MICE industry has also been expanding rapidly into the digital sphere, Ms Lee pointing out that the city had already been utilising the technology even before the pandemic. BIO KOREA 2020 for instance, which just concluded on 23 May with 13,000 attendees, was fully virtual.

“The lockdowns [simply exposed] the meetings technology to more people. As Korea’s capabilities and skills in ICT and IT are top of the class, the foundation for improvement is firm and ready for a fast development.”

The SCB has prepared support options to cater to all possibilities in the virtual world, and is researching on developing a virtual promotional booth. “The fundamental attitude we have at SCB is to support event planners in realising their event. This could be providing fast speed networking services, image sources of unique venues or team building activities.”

South Korea’s capital eased broader restrictions, re-opening offices, sports centres, and most attractions, but shuttered these public facilities once more in late May after a series of fresh clusters emerged. Currently, residents have been imposed with strict personal hygiene routines, while the city is also in the process of setting up a collaborating hospital system with vicinity governments to deter the overfilling of hospitals in a specific area.