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Korea’s MICE success formula goes to Africa

Korea continues to host a series of major international events in 2012, from the Seoul Nuclear Security Summit earlier this year to the World Conservation Congress in Jeju slated for this September, alongside Expo 2012 Yeosu Korea. The nation’s own formula consolidated through the hosting of numerous international meets is now reaching new realms, stretching as far as the African continent.

In 2009, the Korean government selected the meetings and conventions market also known as MICE (an acronym for Meeting, Incentives, Convention, Exhibition) as one of the “new growth engine” industries, along with green energy among others. Since then, the MICE market in Korea has garnered expertise with support from the government and its initiative to develop creative content and technology indigenous to Korea.

The international business travel industry has swiftly grown, reaching the KRW 5.8 trillion mark in 2010, representing a quantum leap in tourism in Korea. The private sector played its part as well, amid the ever-growing popularity of Korean pop culture, which has also contributed to the growth of the market. Last week alone, over 7,000 Japanese fans flew over to Seoul to attend JYJ Membership Week, a fan event held by a three-member Korean boy band.

According to the statistics gathered by the Union of International Associations, Korea hosted a total of 469 conferences last year, ranking sixth place on the UIA international conference countries ranking, a two-place jump from its eighth place in the previous year.

Singapore ranked first with 919 conferences held annually, followed by the United States (744), Japan (598), France (557), and Belgium (533).

Aside from its positive socio-economic implications, Korea’s success formula in MICE tourism has emerged as a benchmark for African nations. Recently, joint delegations from Zimbabwe and Zambia -- co-hosts of the upcoming United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) General Assembly in August 2013 -- visited Korea to get a glimpse of how the latest UNWTO convention was held last October in Gyeongju was put together and gain relevant know-how from the previous host.

Joint delegations from Zimbabwe and Zambia arrived in Korea for a meeting with Korean representatives on June 28, to benchmark the latest UNWTO General Assembly held in Gyeongju last October (photo courtesy of MCST).

The meeting participants broached the topic of logistics related to preparations for the assembly. The Korean representatives conveyed their know-how on protocols, safety and security, packaging and promotion, and technical specifications, alongside documentation and event management involving a professional convention organization (PCO).

“The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism will continue to expand the scope of its Official Development Assistance (ODA) into various spheres, bridging the gap between developed and developing countries,” said an MCST official. “And the knowledge of the MICE segment is one of the pillars we wish to share with other countries.”

Meanwhile, the culture ministry hosts the Korea MICE Job Fair ( on July 4 on the sidelines of the Korea MICE Expo 2012 held in COEX. Eyeing MICE as an industry of opportunity, the ministry is taking an active part in solving the manpower shortage in the respective domain, while also vitalizing youth employment.

“The MICE industry in Korea has more than tripled in scale over the past decade, thereby leading a sharp increase of relevant businesses and professionals working in the industry,” remarked First Vice Culture Minister Kwak Young-jin. “The culture ministry will strive to create more jobs, connect people, and enhance the working environment.”

By Hwang Dana Staff Writer

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