A huge stride

Korean national Helen Shim has spent more than 20 years in the tourism and MICE industry, chalking up several awards along the way. She started her career in Korea Tourism Organization’s Intrabound Tourism Department of the Municipal Government Promotion Team as the only female manager promoting both domestic and overseas tourism.
Working within different departments in the board, including the planning and coordination, the CSR centre, tourism culture team, she joined the incentive and exhibitions team of the MICE bureau in 2011 where she launched projects for MICE groups and was an instrumental part of the Korea MICE Expo and other international trade shows.
Currently in charge of promoting Korea tourism from KTO’s Singapore branch office, she is also working on a Ph.D in North Korean Studies.

HELEN SHIM
KOREA TOURISM ORGANIZATION (KTO)
DIRECTOR/SINGAPORE OFFICE

How did your career begin in the MICE industry?

I came into contact with the MICE industry 10 year ago, with the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) Annual Conference as my first international convention experience. I was one of the members of KTO’s task force and took charge of all official ceremonies, including the opening and welcome party.

What has kept you engaged in a career with KTO for the past 25 years?

I majored in Korean History and Korean Culture. Sharing my love for the rich history and culture, while being part of the team actively promoting Korea as a tourism destination, continues to inspire and motivate me.

What have you been up to this year, and what are some goals?

I arrived in Singapore close to six months ago. Being new to Singapore, I am trying to adapt and also understand the multi-national culture here. I hope to promote Korea to Singaporeans, by learning about the things that interest them so as to entice them to travel to Korea for leisure, business and MICE.

How do you think the tourism industry has evolved, and how will it continue
to evolve?

Tourists are now more discerning. There is a greater demand for more experiences, exploration and learning, as opposed to the old-fashioned basic requirements for guest rooms, good food and facilities. More tourists are seeking authentic travel experiences that will allow them to participate in local cultures. Travel operators will stand to benefit from this demand if they package trips in a creative manner, allowing tourists to gain a rich cultural travel experience and remain sensitive to the interests of local cultures.

What do you do outside of work?

I strike a balanced lifestyle outside work by playing golf and making new friends in Singapore. Deemed the world’s best tourism country, I am also learning about every aspect of the Singapore culture.