SEOUL — The South Korean capital has cautiously reopened its business
events and MICE industry, following the successful hosting of the Korea
Landscape and Garden Expo 2020 from 3 to 6 June — the first event to
take place in the city since the easing of Covid-19 restrictions.
This was swiftly followed by the Seoul International Dental
Exhibition and Scientific Congress 2020 (SIDEX 2020), which attracted
4,860 attendees across two days (6-7 June).
Forging ahead with such as a large event caused some initial concern among stakeholders, particularly with regards to crowd management, but frequent cleaning and disinfection of the venue, along with mandatory face masks for all attendees and regular monitoring of indoor air quality meant the "mass gathering" did not result in any new cases of Covid-19. This fact was proudly published on the SIDEX website two weeks after the event.
The 10th Korea Smart Device Trade Show 2020 (KITAS) was then held from 23-25 July, welcoming 19,862 attendees.
Jihyun Kim, director of the MICE planning team at Seoul Convention
Bureau (part of Seoul Tourism Organization), said the city's business
events industry is recovering, albeit with a strict focus on safety measures.
“Seoul’s MICE industry started to host MICE events in June... and the
industry has worked extremely hard to keep the attendees safe and
sound," she said.
While Kim is positive about the industry's 'slow but steady' recovery,
she remains cautious about the fickle nature of the pandemic.
"The situation might change in a day, as we’ve seen many times during
the last six months, but we still believe that keeping positive will
give us better energy to move forward,” she said.
Her positivity is not unfounded, however, as South Korea was among the first
destinations to release new management and hygiene guidelines for venues
(the Central Disease Control Headquarters and Central Disaster
management Headquarters released Disinfection Guidelines to Prevent the
Spread of COVID-19 at Public and Multi-purpose Facilities on 2 April),
and several of Seoul's convention centres have introduces their own
procedures and measures off the back of these official guidelines.
As a result, event bookings are returning to the COEX Convention
& Exhibition Center, with eight international exhibitions and
conventions confirmed from July to December 2020, along with several
domestic events. According to SCB, venues such as SETEC, aT Center, and
Sejong University Conference Center are also starting to host event
under strict quarantine measures.
Event planners are also going the extra mile. At the recent Seoul
International Wines & Spirits Expo 2020, for example, on top of
mandatory measures such as temperature checks, maintaining physical distance, and
mask-wearing, organisers also distributed plastic gloves.
SCB's PLUS SEOUL support programme has also added more options to
help event planners adjust to the 'new normal'. This includes support
for the provision of personal hygiene kit, thermal imaging camera
rental, and venue disinfection services.
"The MICE industry of Seoul is showing an increase in catching up
like a tortoise in the classic story — slow but steady wins the race," said Kim.