The Gyeonggi Convention Bureau is scheduled to be established in the second half of the year. With its own short and long-term road maps to be made, it will be leading more systematic and in-depth activities, said Jeon Tai-heon, Assistant Governor, Economy & Investment Office, in Gyeonggi Provincial Government. BusinessKorea met him in his office to hear what and how the province is doing for nurturing the MICE industry.
Q : How can Gyeonggi Province’s competitiveness in the meeting, incentives, conference and exhibition (MICE) industry improve its brand image?
A: Gyeonggi Province is a metropolitan council surrounding Seoul City like a doughnut. Due to its geographical characteristics, it is somewhat tough for the province to increase its brand awareness overseas. Nevertheless, it owns a variety of cultural and tourism resources in its territory, which is 17 times bigger than the capital. There is no doubt that the attraction of MICE events has a massive impact in terms of regional economy and urban marketing.
Participants of such events are usually industrial leaders and prominent figures. Therefore, playing host to these is a highly effective way to market and publicize our province on a global level.
For instance, the World Economic Forum, also known as the Davos Forum, has heightened global awareness of the resort city in Switzerland. Meanwhile, according to the Singapore Tourism Board, approximately 40% of MICE participants visit host cities for sightseeing purposes. Furthermore, the Association of North East Asia Regional Governments said in its 2010 report that 95% of those who had come to our province for MICE events were first-time visitors.
From a marketing aspect, we are trying to shore up our brand image by utilizing the MICE industry. By developing more cultural tourism, industry tours and sightseeing programs, we aim to increase the efficiency of our regional promotion.
Q : How does the MICE industry contribute to the revitalization of the regional economy?
A: According to the Singapore Tourism Board, there is what is called the 10/90 rule, which states that an international conference, etc., can create added value up to 10 times that of the original investment.
In a similar context, the Korea Tourism Organization(KTO) has revealed that MICE participants spend 50% of their expenses on lodging, 30% on transport and 20% on dining, shopping and sightseeing, while their per-capita spending is approximately 2.4 times that of general tourists. This is why the Korean government has selected the MICE industry as one of its 17 future growth engines.
In step with this national drive, Gyeonggi Province is paying keen attention to the industry, seeing it as a way to help strike a balance between the northern and southern areas of the province. In the north, the local government is linking the Korea International Exhibition Center (KINTEX) and Hallyu World in Goyang City with the cultural, tourism, shopping and entertainment resources of Paju City and surrounding areas. In the south, the government is trying to attract more international events by building on its tourist attractions and resorts.
Q : Please introduce the MICE industrial strategies of Gyeonggi Province.
A: The Gyeonggi Convention Bureau is scheduled to be established in the second half of the year and will be part of the Gyeonggi Tourism Organization.
Once founded, it will be the first time in Korea that a convention bureau is established and run by an autonomous metropolitan province, with the exception of Jeju Special Self-governing Province. With its own short and long-term road maps, the bureau will work on relevant infrastructure and nurturing the MICE industry.
Short-term plans revolve around the development of customized programs linking KINTEX with Goyang City’s lodging, shopping, leisure and entertainment facilities. Long-term projects include the Korea International Boat Show in Hwaseong City and the G-Global Aviation event in Ansan City.
Furthermore, the province is planning to form a Gyeonggi MICE Alliance. Joined by MICE-related organizations, companies and local government agencies, the alliance will be responsible for the enhancement of Gyeonggi Province’s competitiveness in the industry.
Q : What is the province’s overseas marketing strategy to attract more MICE events?
A: We will continue to strive to bring in both domestic and international functions in cooperation with the central government. Meeting the global standard of a minimum area of 100,000m2, the KINTEX is the ideal venue for large-scale international conferences and expositions.
In regards to international events, plans must be even more far-sighted and thorough, as seen in the recent successful bid for the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics. This is where the Gyeonggi Convention Bureau comes into play, with it leading more systematic and in-depth activities. I am convinced that the province is more than capable, as shown by its hosting of the International Exhibition of Textile and Machinery and an International Telecommunication Union meeting.
For smaller events, it will cooperate with entities such as the KTO and Seoul Tourism & Marketing, as well as capitalize on its location near to Seoul by providing various events and incentive tours.
Q : What is the current status of the establishment of MICE infrastructure and what is your comparative advantage?
A: Infrastructure is a key aspect of the MICE industry. The KINTEX boasts an area three times larger than that of the COEX. It ranks 5th in Asia and 34th globally in terms of venue size, which means its global competitiveness is strong.
To further refine this competitive edge, a high-class hotel with 370 rooms is scheduled to be completed by June 2013. Furthermore, the Gyeonggi Convention Bureau will offer purpose-specific services so that business travelers can avail themselves of the province’s diverse facilities and programs.
Q : How can Gyeonggi Province distinguish itself from other MICE venues in Korea?
A: The MICE infrastructure of Gyeonggi Province is spread widely throughout the territory. As such, different locations can serve different MICE events.
For example, the KINTEX is particularly suitable for large-scale industrial expos and international conventions. Hwaseong City, located near the West Sea, is ideal for marine leisure industrial exhibitions, while Ansan City is optimized for aviation and maritime industrial expos. Suwon City, where a Ramada hotel is located, is popular with entrepreneurs wanting mid to small-sized business meetings.
In addition, local governments are seeking ways to better link their unique and interesting festivities and sightseeing resources with international events. The World Heritage Site of Hwaseong Fortress in Suwon, Everland and the Korean Folk Village in Yongin City, the Yeoju Premium Outlet and the ceramics museum in Icheon City are just some of the attractive resources that can become tourist, cultural and shopping destinations for overseas visitors.
Q : Is Gyeonggi Province specialized in any subsectors of the industry?
A: The MICE infrastructure of the province, unlike that of other regions, supports a wide variety of conventions and exhibitions. It can satisfy everyone from businessmen to shoppers and tourists interested in culture and nature.
The KINTEX is currently hosting approximately 60% of all large-scale expositions held in Korea. Once the second exhibition hall is opened in a couple of months, this is likely to rise even more.
At present, the Ministry of Knowledge Economy and the provincial government is providing 4.2 billion won annually in support of large-sized industrial expos. This can be broken down to: two billion won for specialized fairs hosted by the province, i.e., Korea Industry Fair, Korea Electronics Show and Korea Autoparts & Auto-related Industries Show; 1.4 billion won for domestic fairs; and 0.8 billion won for companies participating in domestic exhibitions.
Q : Can you tell us about the major MICE functions to be hosted in Gyeonggi during the second half of this year?
A: First of all, the 17th Organic World Congress(OWC) of the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements(IFOAM) is scheduled to take place between September 26 and October 5. The event is expected to attract over 30,000 people from around the world.
Meanwhile, on September 28, the Korea Industry Fair 2011 will be held in both exhibition halls of the KINTEX. it will be the largest industrial exhibition in Korea, combining six sub-expos, and featuring approximately 1,970 companies and over 6,000 booths.