JEJU province needs more MICE-friendly hotels and venues and more direct international flight access, as well as raise MICE practitioner standards if it wants to become a stronger MICE destination, said the island’s industry players.
Jeju Tourism Organisation president, Yang Young-Keun, said the resort island has 12,000 rooms from tourist hotels, motels and inns, and 35,000 rooms from bed-and-breakfast establishments.
“With Jeju stepping up destination promotions and welcoming an increasing number of visitors, more hotel rooms are needed. And Jeju’s biggest problem today is the lack of five-star hotels, especially those of international hotel brands. This shortage of five-star hotel rooms led room rates to be very high, at US$300 per night.”
Yang pointed at that Jeju’s main convention centre, ICC Jeju, is located in Seogwipo city, which makes Jeju city lacking a dedicated MICE facility. Conventions in Jeju city are supported by hotels with function rooms.
“Jeju city needs at least 15,000 hotel rooms and a convention centre that can accommodate at least 10,000 delegates. The city needs also a 1,000-room hotel that can cater to mega MICE groups,” said Yang.
Guk Moon-Gyeong, producer, MICE, of Jeju-based PCO WinPlusWin, agreed, saying that the island’s existing infrastructure cannot support mega events. “Most of our clients are drawn to Seoul and Busan, which have facilities and logistics support for large events, as well as supporting appeal such as shopping malls, restaurants and entertainment.”
Guk also identified direct international air access as a stumbling block for Jeju’s MICE ambition.
Jang Sung-woo, director and professor at Jeju National University’s Tourism & Leisure Education Centre, also said Jeju’s shortage of MICE talent was also an obstacle in the destination’s quest to become a world-class MICE city.
He said: “There are 150 PCOs in Jeju this year, which is a poor number, and there is a lack of experienced MICE practitioners to staff these PCOs. Fortunately, the Korean government recognises this weakness and has invested US$2 million per year over the last two to three years on the university’s MICE programme. We have 600 students to date.”
Despite these limitations, Jeju has been hosting some large MICE groups, including a 10,000-pax Baozhen Group incentive and 8,000-pax Amway Korea incentive. It will also welcome the 10,000-pax World Conservation Congress next September.