According to the Brussels-based research organization Union of International Associations, the Republic of Korea ranked 8th in the world and its capital, Seoul, ranked 5th for hosting international conferences in 2010. In November 2010, South Korea became the first Asian country to host the G20 Summit. In order to raise its meetings profile even higher, the South Korean government has declared 2012 as Korea Convention Year.
South Korea’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism and the Korea Tourism Organization have worked with meeting, incentive, convention, and exhibition (MICE) alliances in seven regional meeting destinations to provide better services and support to MICE participants and organizers.
In addition, during 2012, many discounts and incentives will be available throughout the country for qualifying meetings and incentive programs. Hotels are offering up to 40 percent off room rates, convention centers are offering up to 30 percent off meeting space, and other offers range from shuttle bus service, to spa services, to room upgrades, to reduced entrance fees for local attractions such as aquariums. Specific deals are listed by region at the official Web site of the Korea MICE Bureau.
Qualified events also may take advantage of discounts on the country’s two airlines: Korean Air and Asiana Airlines.
South Korea’s Facility and Destination News
Korea International Exhibition Center, or KINTEX, the largest exhibition center in South Korea, recently built its second center, doubling the venue’s space to more than 1.1 million square feet in 57 divisible meeting rooms.
The second center was built as a green exhibition space, taking advantage of renewable energy and thereby saving 363 tons of carbon emissions. KINTEX is in Goyang, which borders Seoul.
Following are snapshots of the capital city, plus other regions of the country participating in Convention Year 2012 that North American meeting planners might be less knowledgeable about:
Seoul’s high-tech Coex convention center has high-speed wireless internet and GPS information services that run throughout the center. In addition to being a tech center, Seoul also is graced with the Hangang River, which flows through the center of the city, and the majestic Namsan Mountain that overlooks it. City parks are being expanded as part of an effort to make Seoul more environmentally friendly. Find more at the convention bureau Web site.
The second-largest city in South Korea, Busan is a major port and gateway to Japan. Its landscape includes a coastline with fine beaches, scenic islets, and mountains. Find more at the CVB Web site.
Scenic beaches, waterfalls, cliffs, caves, and mild weather are among the features of Jeju Island, a popular resort island. Find more at the Korea Tourism Organization Web site.
A UNESCO World Heritage site, Daegu is the birthplace of traditional Korean culture. The city’s industries include textiles and fashion. Also in the region are steel producers in neighboring Pohang, petrochemical and automobile industries in Changwon, and electronics in Gumi.
Located in the southeast of the Korean peninsula, Daegu is a two-hour journey from every other major city. It is also the first city in South Korea to have established a cooperative system between the city administrations, the convention bureau, and the convention center, the EXCO, which assists in the convention-hosting process from the earliest phases of organizing to the wrapup. Find more at the CVB Web site.
Located in the midwest Korea peninsula abutting the Yellow Sea, the city is a gateway to Northeast Asia and only one hour from Seoul. Incheon became the logistics center of Northeast Asia with the opening of the state-of-the-art Incheon International Airport, as well as an engine for South Korea’s economic growth with the establishment in 2003 of the Incheon Free Economic Zone, South Korea’s first such project. Find more at the tourism development office Web site or the Songdo Convention Center Web site.
A leader in science and technology, the city is home to 232 research and education institutes including the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, the National Fusion Research Institute, the Korea Aerospace Research Institute, and the Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute. Geographically located in the heart of the country, Daejeon functions as a transportation hub. Seoul is only 50 minutes by high speed train. Find more at the CVB Web site.
Located in southwestern South Korea, Gwangju is known as a city of the arts, and plays host to Gwangju Biennale and the Gwangju Design Biennale, which are international festivals of modern art and design. Gwangju’s new Asian Culture Complex, set to partially open in 2012, is meant to encourage cultural exchanges among Asian arts communities. Gwangju also is well-known for its authentic Korean cuisine, with its location between the western coastal plains and the west sea giving it access to a rich variety of fresh ingredients. Gwangju Kimchi Town even offers hands-on programs for learning how to make South Korea’s most renowned food, kimchi. Find more at the CVB Web site. and the Web site of the Kimdaejung Convention Center.