▲ Photo courtesy Jeju Special Self-Governing Province
Some 200 delegates representing 11 island states from around the world came to Jeju for the 15th Inter-Islands Tourism Policy (ITOP) Forum. The gathering was held from Sept. 28 to 30 at the Lotte Hotel Jeju, Seogwipo City, under the umbrella of Meetings, Incentives, Conventions, and Exhibitions (MICE) Industry & Tourism.
Over the three-day forum there were special conferences held by high-ranking public officials from Jeju, South Korea; Haina, China; Okinawa, Japan; Bali, Indonesia; Hawaii, USA; Southern Province, Sri Lanka; Penang, Malaysia; Phuket, Thailand; and Zanzibar, Tanzania.
Culture, Tourism & Sports General-Director Han Dong Joo, who was in charge of the forum, told The Weekly that ITOP’s purpose is to “promote mutual development of the tourism industry and promote our tourism marketing abroad.” He continued that the forum was an arena that permitted island states that share similar cultural and geological features the opportunity to come together to develop tourism policies.
Jeju Governor Woo Keun Min, who attended as the island’s representative, said that he had learned a lot from the conference especially concerning MICE industry. He said the lectures had shed light on “some key factors” that Jeju might have been previously “neglect[ing].”
With China’s recent economic rise and with its proximity to the island, the Jeju government has been pursuing MICE industry with the idea that it will be an important tourism growth sector. Han said that Jeju is specifically targeting incentive tours adding that since companies mostly foot the cost of the trip “individual travelers do not have to worry … so that they can spend their money more flexibly.”
Due to the nature of the forum as essentially a get together for island states to discuss what they have done since the last conference, it is difficult to judge the monetary effect ITOP has had in its 15 years. Han said that he doesn’t believe “[the] ITOP forum has [had] any direct effects on Jeju tourism industry,” but through becoming more familiar with other islands with common interests and their tourism trends Jeju has developed tourist strategies and policies not previously implemented.
Through learning from others and helping less developed tourism industries Han said that the forum provides “a win-win situation,” for all participating members.
The 16th ITOP Forum will occur next year in Okinawa, Japan.
ⓒ Jeju Weekly 2009 (http://www.jejuweekly.com)
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