Korea roadshows target Mice market

Last month, Korean National Tourism Organization (KNTO) organised a Mice night at InterContinental Dubai Festival City, as part of its two-city roadshow covering Dubai and Istanbul.

The aim of the inaugural Mice night in the UAE was to attract GCC companies to visit Korea for meetings and incentives, with a showcase of outstanding venues, prime attractions and capabilities of Korea to host international meetings and events.

While the UAE is fairly new when it comes to Mice travel to South Korea, the Turkey market is booming, executive director of Korea Mice Bureau, Jo Deok Hyun, tells TTN. “Last year, we had 400 Mice trips from Turkey, this year as of September this number has already tripled to 1,500 incentive tours. We believe that the UAE also has a similar potential – to triple next year - due to the strong economic ties between the two countries.

“Also Korea’s participation in Expo 2020 Dubai, where we will be showcasing our mobile technology along with our culture and gastronomy on the Korea pavilion, will help boost the image of the country. It will be a turning point for companies dealing in Mice tourism market.”

Major inbound suppliers, hoteliers, tourism boards, tourism ventures and government entities from six major cities including Seoul, Busan, Jeju, Incheon, Gyeonggi and Gangwon participated in the roadshow. “Next year we will likely expand the roadshow to cover to other places like Abu Dhabi in the UAE and even other GCC countries.”

The KNTO office in Dubai had recently concluded a Mice familiarisation trip to Seoul for major companies in the Gulf region to showcase the autumn season.

The country has been positioning itself internationally as a highly preferred meeting destination. According to UIA statistics 2018, South Korea was ranked in the second position for hosting 854 international meetings. Seoul was listed among the Top 3 convention cities.

“Leisure is still our main focus here in the Middle East,” confirms the Mice bureau chief. “Mice travel is a niche market, a new reason to invite people from the region to our country.” 

Last year, 39,000 tourists from the GCC visited South Korea, out of which 11,000 tourists were from the UAE. The other way around, more than 100,000 tourists from South Korea visited the UAE last year.

“Mice is booming in Asian countries – China, Japan, Thailand and Malaysia – have huge numbers of Mice tourists, their markets are mature, but we have unique offerings, unique venues and meeting facilities.

“For instance, we have a traditional wooden house – which can accommodate up to 500 to 600 people – who can stay inside the house, have their meetings in there, enjoy dining and cocktail receptions. 

“South Korea has a lot of temples, today they ae used not for religious functions, but for meditation, relaxation and healing. These temples are located in the mountains with beautiful views, which change with the season: we have four distinct seasons of fall, winter, summer and spring.”

In fact, more than 70 per cent of Korea is covered in mountains, the country has many ski resorts.

Korean gastronomy is one of the top things that tourists like to do in Korea, says Hyun, “so we have a lot of cooking lessons - including halal cooking sessions – that Mice travellers can include in their itinerary.”

Culture is also a big focus – traditional dances and arts and craft should not be overlooked and there’s great shopping opportunities too for the retail savvy.

“Nature wise, we are truly blessed: we have the Cherry Blossom festival in spring, but even autumn colours are fascinating for the UAE travellers as we discovered over the recent fam trip. People in Korea are very open minded and friendly. Many people think Seoul is like any other South East Asian big city, but we are more aligned toward to European standards, Japanese standards.”