Posted : 2016-02-18 16:57
Updated : 2016-02-19 09:17

MICE boosts tourism industry

Kangwon Land, a casino and resort in Jeongseon, Gangwon Province, hosts two corporate incentive groups in February — Zhulian, a Thai multilevel marketing company that sells a variety of nutritional and health products, and High Life Network, another Thai firm. / Courtesy of Kangwon Land

By Chung Ah-young

In recent years, meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions (MICE) have given regional economies and tourism industries a much-needed boost.

As a high value-added business, MICE have encouraged many countries to strengthen their infrastructure to accommodate large-scale international events. In Korea, both the government and private sectors are rolling up their sleeves to attract more events and group tour through MICE.

The Korea Tourism Organization (KTO) has come up with various domestic and international programs that promote the country as a MICE destination.

According to the KTO's MICE Bureau, the nation will be hosting seven major international congresses, which are expected to bring 22,800 participants to the country between 2017 and 2021.

This year, Korea will host nine corporate incentive tours, which will likely draw some 40,000 visitors. The incentive travel refers to travel given by companies or other organizations to employees or members as a reward in order to improve motivation and productivity. The nine incentive events, which will take place between January and October, involve corporate groups from China Headline News, Herbalife, Kang Ting Cosmetics, McDonalds', Prudential and Zhulian.

This month alone, Kangwon Land, a casino and resort company, is hosting two corporate incentive groups — Zhulian, a Thai multilevel marketing company that sells a variety of nutritional and health products, and High Life Network, another Thai firm.

Zhulian employees visit Kangwon Land in 2013 as part of an incentive travel program.
/ Courtesy of Kangwon Land

Some 500 employees of Zhulian stayed at the resort on Feb. 16-18, and another 500 staff are staying on Feb. 17-19. Meanwhile, 300 employees of High Life Network will stay at the resort on Feb. 25. Zhulian employees have previously traveled to Korea in 2013 as part of an incentive travel group. Kangwon Land said these incentive travelers will visit the ski resorts and other nearby tourist attractions.

"Attracting the overseas incentive groups is the result of our efforts to promote our sales to Southeast Asian countries, which hardly see snow, in cooperation with the KTO," Yang Soo-yong, director of the resort division of Kangwon Land, said.

Shilla I'Park Duty Free, a duty-free store that opened last December in Yongsan, central Seoul, said it will welcome some 6,500 Chinese employees of AURANCE, a beauty product firm, from March 26 to April 1. The tourist group is this year's largest for MICE so far. They will attend conventions that will be held at Songdo ConvensiA Convention Center in Incheon, west of Seoul, and travel to major tourist attractions in Seoul and Incheon, including Shilla I'Park Duty Free.

The Incheon Tourism Organization said these visitors are expected to boost the city's economy by an estimated 12 billion won from the visitors' spending on accommodations, restaurants and shopping.

The KTO said its Singapore office also confirmed an incentive travel group from global nutrition firm Herbalife Asia Pacific Extravaganza in June. On June 16-19, some 10,000 employees from 10 countries will visit Korea, and in particular, KINTEX and One Mount in Gyeonggi Province.

The event, which aims to share Herbalife's vision, success and know-how, would be the largest incentive travel group that the KTO's overseas office has attracted so far.

"The group tourists are expected to bring 31.7 billion won in economic effect during the event. Korea will seize the occasion to promote itself as the ultimate MICE destination in Asia," Shim Hay-ryun, director of the KTO Singapore office, said.

More efforts to boost MICE industry

The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism and the KTO will hold a Korea MICE event in Guangzhou, China, on May 20-21. Some 100 Korean MICE businesspeople from 40 firms will participate in the event to attract business tourists from the Chinese region.

The Incheon International Airport has also been operating the MICE Concierge Service for tourists since January last year. The service has gained popularity among MICE travelers, such as incentive travel groups.

The concierge service, which is located on the second floor of the airport, provides information for foreign MICE travelers with regard to accommodations, transportation, tourist attractions and shopping.

According to the Korea MICE Association, some 4,000 foreign tourists from some 30 countries who took part in 70 MICE events have used the concierge service.

Other airports, such as the Gimhae Airport, are also being urged to operate the MICE help desks to accommodate the increasing number of travelers attending conventions and congresses in various provincial areas.?

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