South Korea unveils plan to drive MICE tourism

The destination prepares for anticipated demand from international planners and organisers with initiatives to highlight safety.

Incentive travel demand to return to South Korea, with a preference for exclusive arrangements.
Incentive travel demand to return to South Korea, with a preference for exclusive arrangements. Photo Credit: gettyimages/TanawatPontchour

South Korea’s reopening of international borders in April is a timely one for planners who have been looking forward to the easing of restrictions to plan more dynamic programmes for corporate groups.

Alongside its reopening, South Korea is underscoring its safety factor with plans to bolster its standing as a preferred global MICE destination.

Travel management companies such as CWT Meetings & Events report that while the “wow” factor used to be the priority for corporates, there is now a preference for exclusive arrangements such as private air charter or exclusive use of venues or facilities. Overall, the appetite for new experiences in Asia Pacific is very high.

Ease of travel is adding momentum to what was already a pressing need for companies to resume incentive programmes for valued employees. The Great Resignation acknowledged in the latest Research Foundation 2022 Trends Report highlights the importance of a robust incentive programme to retain talents. 

As part of South Korea's MICE rejuvenation, Jerome Kim, M.D., Director General of the International Vaccine Institute (IVI) has been appointed as Honorary Ambassador of Korea Tourism to promote South Korea as a MICE tourism destination. Dr Kim was named one of “The 50 Most Influential People in Vaccines” in 2014 by the vaccine industry organization Vaccine Nation.

Jerome Kim, M.D., Director General of the International Vaccine Institute (IVI) has been appointed as Honorary Ambassador of Korea Tourism to promote MICE.
Jerome Kim, M.D., Director General of the International Vaccine Institute (IVI) has been appointed as Honorary Ambassador of Korea Tourism to promote MICE. Photo Credit: International Vaccine Institute

Dr Kim was reported to have said that as South Korea is highly adept in its use of technology, virtual events and live streaming elements in hybrid events have been successfully organised for planners over the past two years.

For Chris & Partners, a destination management company (DMC), the past two years have required a shift in developing new expertise to meet the demand for virtual and hybrid events. It has inspired the company to develop a Meeting Experience platform that allows planners to extract data to identify specific KPI settings.

Chris Sujung Na, CEO and founder of Chris & Partners developed the Meetings Experience platform to engage international planners with a data-based approach.
Chris Sujung Na, CEO and founder of Chris & Partners developed the Meetings Experience platform to engage international planners with a data-based approach.

According to Chris Sujung Na, CEO and founder of Chris & Partners, the data-based event planning approach resonated with planners who required quantifiable markers. “However, we expect an explosive pent-up demand for face-to-face events alongside the popularity for virtual events.”

Regarding the return of in-person events, Dr Kim had stressed the importance of simplified restrictions, managed costs for Covid-19 related procedures and the streamlining of the use of dedicated apps to enter specific venues. He also emphasised that easing of restrictions after achieving high rates of vaccination is not without risks. The push to vaccinate and give booster shots to hit above 90% vaccination levels in the community is required.

Dr Kim added that MICE venues such as COEX are well organised and equipped to handle post-pandemic conferences and exhibitions, while destinations such as Busan are highly favourable for corporate groups looking for a more diverse feel of South Korea.

Chris concluded that there is a need for the South Korean government to announce clear guidelines to facilitate international planning. “Although travel restrictions between countries have been lifted, individual DMCs and international planners have not yet been able to prepare effectively for the administrative procedures. I think it will be of great help if clear guidelines at the bureau level could be communicated quickly."



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