KTO pushes secondary cities to Singapore, Hong Kong

WHILE Seoul remains popular with MICE delegates, cities like Busan, Jeju and relatively less-known Gyeongnam are wrestling for a slice of the pie too.

Gyeongnam Convention & Visitors Bureau (GNCVB) marketing director, Kim Daehwan, said the bureau will launch a new campaign, Discover the Undiscovered, in 2014 to showcase the province’s scenic coastal attractions and cultural heritage sites through fam trips and tradeshow participation.

“We will definitely not be able to pull traffic away from the main cities, so we are targeting repeat visitors,” said Kim.

Gyeongnam is well positioned to attract MICE traffic, he pointed out, with new venues such as the 136m Changwon Solar Tower, which features a 300-pax conference room, 1,000-pax outdoor plaza and 120m-high observatory with ocean views.

Currently 80 per cent of MICE traffic to Gyeongnam comes from China, said Kim, and the CVB intends to target South-east Asian markets like Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand.

Helen Shim, director of the Korea Tourism Organization (KTO) Singapore office, said Singaporean delegates are starting to cast their eyes away from Seoul, and are heading for cities like Busan and Jeju.

Shim added that the MICE infrastructure in these cities is “equally competitive” to Seoul’s. “The plus point is the lower prices; it can be even up to 50 per cent cheaper.”

Meanwhile, in Hong Kong, KTO is holding today a first-ever MICE presentation on Seoul, Busan and Jeju to woo incentives with its generous support.

A KTO Hong Kong spokesperson said: “In the last five years, the market has grown 250 per cent and we’ve recorded 142,000 incentive visitors in 2012. We want to spread the word, especially about our incentives and sponsorship for groups. After the event, we’ll assess the result and hope to run it regularly.” Out of 100 attendees, two-thirds are corporates, while the rest are DMCs and travel consultants.

Lotus Tours senior manager for MICE, pilgrimage and cruise planner, Arthur Choy, said: “KTO is reputed for its supportive policy for small groups. To us, it’s vital because it’s a value-added element for us to wow our budget-tight clients.”

Additional reporting by Prudence Lui

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