JEJU - Already blessed with the splendour Mother Nature has bestowed upon her, Jeju is on the cusp of a technological leap that seeks to re-brand the popular South Korean island as the leading smart MICE capital of the world.
As part of a five-year plan drawn up by the Korean Presidential Committee on Balanced National Development in November 2018, Jeju is now the focal point of the government's push in the fourth industrial revolution, which involves disruptive technological trends such as the Internet of Things, robotics, virtual reality and artificial intelligence.
The plan, which culminates in 2022, has seen Jeju's Seogwipo Innovation City designated as a smart MICE centre. The same blueprint also saw the government announce plans for Jeju to be a Block Chain Hub City.
To that end, the South Korean government invested 167 billion Korean won (US$150 million) in 12 different industrial sectors.
Work is now in progress on building the global training town, forming a consultative group for MICE development in collaboration with specialised educational institutions, establishing meetings and exhibition portals, as well as offering tailor-made tourism services, training and educational services.
To mitigate the environmental impact, the South Korean government launched the Carbon Free Island 2030 project in 2012, with unprecedented budgets allocated for the research and execution of using renewable energy and eco-friendly vehicles.
The move towards being a technology hub is an intriguing contrast to what the paradise island is most well-known for. After all, Jeju's allure lies in her natural landscapes showcasing the breathtaking beauty of the island. The island also offers unique experiences for tourists with its distinct historical sites and relics, indigenous industries, folk customs, and spiritual culture.
All these played a pivotal role in Jeju becoming the only island in the world that is awarded the "Triple Crown" by UNESCO as a Biosphere Reserve in 2002, World Natural Heritage in 2007, and Global Geopark in 2010. In 2016, Jeju's Haenyeo culture was named UNESCO Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
Jeju's Haenyeo culture was designated by UNESCO as Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2016.
Being on the forefront of cultural and natural conservation, while leading the nation's charge on digital and technological transformation, Jeju is now "the best of both worlds" as a leading MICE destination.
INVESTING ON INNOVATION
While the Seogwipo Innovation City is designated as the epi-centre of South Korea's smart MICE capital, an expansion of a MICE industrial complex in harmony with the natural environment of Jeju is also being planned. In addition, a project to build a second convention centre by 2022 - alongside the island's current main facility, the seven-storey Jeju International Convention Centre - in order to accommodate more MICE events is being considered.
The seven-storey Jeju International Convention Centre is host to many world-class events.
The South Korean government has invested 7.8 billion Korean won to build Smart MICE educational facilities. To complete the smart MICE ecosystem, other plans in the pipeline include the creation of a Cooperative-Intelligent Transport System, Jeju Innovation City Multi-Innovation Centers, and urban planning schemes to help prevent crime.
A consultative group for MICE development - comprising stakeholders from Jeju Province, the Jeju Tourism Organization, the Jeju Convention and Visitors Bureau, and other education institutions - has been formed. The group will provide comprehensive data on meetings, exhibitions, education, and tourism, and provide collaborative workspace services to help find new business models. Through this group, South Korea expects to host more than 160 international conferences each year.
The biggest advantage, among many, is that Jeju's MICE industry strives to coexist with local communities. By continuously developing MICE-related products and services in conjunction with the local communities, making use of what Jeju has in connection with the city renewal projects based on sustainability, the MICE industry has contributed greatly to the revitalisation of the local economy.
As such, Jeju is continuing to grow together with the local communities by hosting a multitude of international conferences and fostering industries which only Jeju can offer.
No visa entry and 30-day stay for 187 countries including China.
More than 40,000 hotel rooms with wide choice range from 6,000 premium rooms to quaint small rooms.
There are 180 scheduled flights from Seoul's Gimpo Airport to the island of Jeju - making it the busiest airline route in the world. The journey - a mere 450km hop - takes just 30 minutes in the air.