Seoul’s proactive investment in its digital infrastructure and strong
policy support for the MICE industry is paying off for the city as the
world meets again.
During the pandemic, Seoul kept up its ambitions to build up its
meetings sector. The Seoul Metropolitan Government and Seoul Tourism
Organization joined hands to roll out “Virtual Seoul”, a virtual platform where international delegates met and connected amid the city’s most iconic landmarks.
Not only was Seoul ranked the second top city in the 2022 UIA
International Meetings Statistics Report, the Korean capital was also
named the world’s top MICE city for eight consecutive years by business
travel specialist Global Traveler.
Soon, Seoul will soon see a massive boost to its MICE infrastructure
amid growing demand for meetings and events venues, Kim Young Hwan,
director general of the Tourism and Sports Bureau from the Seoul
Metropolitan Government, told M&C Asia at the recent IMEX Frankfurt.
New exhibition and convention centres coming up by 2030 around Jamsil
Olympic stadium, in the northern part of Seoul Station and in the Magok
District. This will expand Seoul’s MICE infrastructure by 3.5 times
from the current 65,000 sqm to 230,000 sqm.
A trio of regional MICE cooperative complexes will be built in Seoul,
including in the southwest district (Magok), the urban district (Seoul
Station, Namsan Mountain, Gwanghwamun Gate), and the southwest district
(from Jamsil to COEX). These clusters – akin to renowned multi-purpose
landmark Dongdaemun Design Plaza – will combine exhibition spaces with
facilities, attractions and retail stores together under one roof.
All these upcoming projects are part of STO’s ongoing efforts to make
Seoul a leading MICE destination and underpin South Korea’s bigger
ambitions, said Kim. “We have plans to host Olympics 2036,” he added.
‘Seoul, my soul’ unveiled
Experiences have been a top drawcard for Seoul, which has unveiled a
new city slogan in ‘Seoul, my soul’. Alongside the city’s stellar lineup
of events, festivals and offerings, the Korean capital has evolved to
become a year-round destination.
“New, safe, and clean” are what Kim sees as top draws for
international visitors and MICE delegates to Seoul. More halal
restaurants and festivals will be added to make the city a friendly
destination for Muslim travellers and MICE groups.
“APAC is a booming and important market,” said Kim. Efforts will be
focused on Southeast Asia, China and Japan. “We are considering new
markets in Asia – Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, and Saudi
Strong lineup of events
Seoul has successfully attracted various international conferences
through its participation in major trade shows. Notably, through initial
consultations at IMEX, Seoul successfully secured the hosting rights
for prominent events such as the IGCS 2023, the Annual Global Meeting of
the International Gynecologic Cancer Society with 2,000 attendees; and
one of the mega events in eSports, the League of Legends World
Championship with 12,000 attendees. Both events will take place in
Airline capacity is rapidly building back, said Kim. To date, Seoul
has built back 70% of its 2019 air capacity, with air lift expected to
reach 100% by this year-end.