Busan ready to tap more visitors from Singapore on the back of inaugural flight

Busan city skyline view at Haeundae district, Gwangalli Beach with yacht pier. (Credit: ake1150sb/Getty Images)
Busan city skyline view at Haeundae district, Gwangalli Beach with yacht pier. (Credit: ake1150sb/Getty Images)

With the May 1 launch of SilkAir's four-weekly Singapore-Busan flights, the port city in South Korea is expecting to see an increase in visitors from Singapore, up from the 40,000 last year.

"Easy accessibility is one of the key factors for MICE and tourism. After the launch of our first direct flights to Malaysia operated by AirAsia X in 2014, visitors grew from about 50,000 to 70,000 last year. We expect a similar trend following the new Singapore-Busan flights," said Sehoon Choi, spokesperson from Busan Tourism Organization (BTO), on the side of the KTO MICE Roadshow in Singapore on May 10. 

As South Korea's second-largest city, Busan offers plenty of "larger-than-life" experiences that would appeal to groups from Singapore, said Choi. 

For instance, the city is home to Jagalchi, the largest seafood market in Korea, and Shinsegae Centum City, registered in the Guinness World Records as the largest shopping complex in the world.

One of the city's newest hotspots is Osiria Tourism Complex in Gijang, attracting 8.3 million people in 2018. The complex is currently home to Lotte Mall, the largest outlet shopping centre in Korea; Hilton Busan; The National Busan Science Museum; and soon - IKEA and Lotte's Magic Forest theme park.

Next month, the city will open a Hanbok experience hall at Yongdusan Park.

The city will also be welcoming the Busan International Art Center, Busan Opera House and Busan Lotte Town in 2021 and 2022.  

In addition to Singapore and Malaysia, Taiwan and Thailand are rising MICE markets, according to BTO, having provided 240,000 and 53,000 corporate meetings and incentives visitors respectively in 2018. 

On the large-scale events front, Busan will be hosting the Asian Pig Veterinarian Society Congress in August, 2019 ASEAN-ROK Commemorative Summit in November, and 2019 International Diabetes Federation in December.

The city, ranked as the world's ninth best for hosting international meetings according to the Union of International Associations, has also secured the rights to host the 2020 International Table Tennis Federation as well as the 2021 International Astronomical Union General Assembly.

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