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Jeju to develop MICE industryTourism industry sees new addition to its repertoire in aim to become world-class destination
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승인 2009.10.15  13:54:05
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▲ Hong Sung-Hwa is the director of Jeju’s MICE Industry Project Team. MICE, or“ Meetings, Incentives, Convention and Exhibition,”has become a booming market, creating new avenues and opportunities in business. Jeju Island would seem the perfect choice for MICE events thanks to the attributes of its natural environment. Photo courtesy Jeju Provincial Government. Inset photo courtesy Kenneth McLeod

Jeju's endeavors to become a leading tourism destination continue with the appointment of a special administrative unit dedicated to establishing Jeju with MICE. Mice, you say? Yes. The acronym, which stands for “Meetings, Incentives, Convention and Exhibition,” may be a little humorous at first but the MICE industry means big business and opportunities for the hosting destination country or city.

The MICE industry is primarily concerned with group events. Large organizations occasionally require venues in which to gather staff, and related participants, for corporate team building, training, rewards and networking activities. These organizations are often international or global in scale, and their events may easily exceed 1,000 people. Given the size of these events, and the large amount of money spent, a thriving industry has developed around attracting and hosting them. This has become known as the “MICE industry”, and of special interest for Jeju is the Incentive Travel segment of the industry.

Incentive Travel involves attracting a potential client to come to a destination through the use of “incentives” such as superior tourism facilities, environment, theme events (role-playing, or adventure activities), human resources training, and unique experiences; that create a memorable experience for the participants. The host must be a master of the coordination of all aspects of travel, tourism and accommodation, and strive to provide world class service and the perfect execution of the event. The other segments of the industry (meetings, convention and exhibition) are more traditional, requiring convention-style facilities and hotels for the events.

Hong Sung-hwa, Director of the MICE Industry Project Team, says that “Jeju is the best place to host MICE events, and is well suited for resort-style incentive tourism.” The Jeju team has been designated by the Korean central government and given the responsibility of developing a comprehensive MICE industry strategy. The project team's goals are to develop the required organizational infrastructure to successfully attract MICE events on Jeju.

The MICE Industry Project Team has been given a 20 billion won (17 million USD) budget over three years. The current government is allocating research and development funds to a wide variety of industries, but to specific regions or groups with the best skills. In the case of the Jeju’s tourism-focused Industry Project Team, the key learning and successful practices will then be adopted nationwide to support other potential venues.

Hong says, “Jeju has nice facilities such as the International Convention Center- which can accommodate up to 4,500 people, 5 star hotels, a growing human resources capability, new environmental tourism with the UNESCO World Heritage Sites and Olle trails, and about 300 unique tourist attractions.” The team is also confident that Jeju people are open to the tourist trade. “Jeju people have a good attitude.” He adds.

Some barriers to entering the competitive market, for Jeju, include the island's location, which requires charter flights via Seoul. “At the present time, direct, international flights are limited, which makes it challenging to bring in large groups directly,” says Jo Sung-jin, a senior researcher on the project team, “the capacity of Jeju International Airport is also reaching its limit, and so another airport facility may be required.” The language ability of administrative front-line and event staff is also an issue that must be continually developed. Necessary languages include English, Japanese and Chinese, to meet the needs of the largest nearby markets.

Jeju is facing off against well established MICE industry markets in Singapore, Hong Kong and Tokyo. “These are the main international competitors within our region.” says Hong. Jeju has only begun to have the capability to host large scale events since 2000, “but since then has developed quite rapidly.”Hong notes. While still primarily hosting only national-level events, Jeju has made remarkable progress by hosting the ASTA and PATA conferences (American Society of Travel Agents, and Pacific Asia Travel Association). These are among other international political and sporting events such as ASEAN group meetings which Jeju successfully hosted, and its involvement in the LPGA tour.

The addition of MICE-related tourism to Jeju is another step towards the development of Jeju's ultimate ability to become a world class destination, and is very much worth paying attention to.
ⓒ Jeju Weekly 2009 (http://www.jejuweekly.com)
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