Attending the AIME exhibition in Melbourne recently, President of the Korea Tourism Organization, Chang Soo Jung, spoke highly of the importance of the Australian market for ongoing growth.
In 2016, South Korea hosted the mega World Rotary Club Convention, with more than 22,000 delegates attending.
“They gave us a big compliment, describing it as the best rotary convention ever,” Mr Jung explains.
And no wonder. South Korea is a seasoned professional when it comes to big events. Korea has played host to the Summer Olympics (1988), the Asian Games on three occasions, the World Athletics Championships, the FIFA World Cup (soccer) 2002, and in 2018 will host the Winter Olympics.
Mr Jung says there are only six countries capable of hosting these large-scale events.
In terms of international meetings, South Korea has hosted in recent times the G20, the Nuclear Security Summit, and ASEAN and APEC meetings.
“We have enough large-scale high-tech facilities, a high-quality transportation system, excellent accommodation and wonderful food that enables us to be able to cater to these large and important meetings and events.
“Korea also offers many different tourism attractions for delegates to enjoy in-between their meetings. In Korea we have 12 world cultural heritage sites.”
The country continues to target the U.S. and European markets for international meetings, and more recently has been promoting its offerings for incentives within nearby countries, resulting in a greater number of incentives now being held in South Korea.
Australia, he says, is very important to South Korea, particularly for the meetings sector.
As part of its strategy, The Korea MICE Bureau (KMB) has stepped up its efforts to make hosting international meetings in Korea more competitive than ever through the launch of its expanded ‘Korea Convention Support Program’.
The range of support programs on offer in 2017 falls into a range of categories, the eligibility for which is determined by an event’s size and duration. For events running at least three days and with either more than 100 overseas attendees or 50 attendees in total if organised by an international body, items include a complimentary banquet for delegates, cultural programs and tours, performances, and high-quality Korean souvenirs.
Larger events with a minimum of 1000 attendees can receive all this plus digital welcome signage and a special concierge desk at Incheon International Airport, an on-site cultural booth, and pre- and post-tours organized by the KMB. In addition, events with at least 3000 attendees are eligible for their own immigration checkpoint at the airport to speed up processing.
Complimentary KMB bidding support services are also offered to those seeking to bring an event to Korea, including site inspections inclusive of airfare and accommodation, while the KMB will act as a central liaison between event organisers and local service providers. As with the above, eligibility criteria applies.