Jeju has ascended UIA‚Äôs global rankings and it wants to grow MICE traffic from South-east Asia, writes Paige Lee Pei Qi
While Jeju Island may be popular among Chinese event planners, the Jeju Convention and Visitors Bureau (JCVB) is courting the South-east Asian market with much fervour.
Describing the region as one that is ‚Äúgrowing rapidly‚ÄĚ for Jeju, JCVB‚Äôs marketing director, Cho Jin Hun, noted that interest from Indonesia and Vietnam has been especially strong.
While the CVB does not track MICE visitor statistics, its overall visitor numbers showed a year-on-year increase of 13 per cent to 12 million footfalls in 2014. A record-breaking 2.8 million were from China, up 55 per cent from 2013.
Visitor numbers from Indonesia numbered 36,850, a 62 per cent year-on-year increase, while from Vietnam there were 32,000, up 76 per cent year-on-year.
Eager to intensify its destination marketing in other South-east Asian markets like Singapore and Malaysia, Cho said the CVB intends to participate in more international exhibitions and may explore organising fam trips.
He said: ‚ÄúPreviously, many people thought Jeju was more for holidays. They did not know that the island can host meetings and conventions too. There are many good meeting facilities available, allowing the destination to offer a perfect mix of business and pleasure.‚ÄĚ
MC MICE‚ÄôS managing director, Yang Minku, agrees. ‚ÄúOur (predominantly Chinese) clients are always looking to mix business with leisure elements and that can easily be achieved in Jeju because (it is a) resort island,‚ÄĚ he said.
Fun factor aside, Jeju has experience in hosting large-scale global gatherings. Having hosted 85 international conferences last year, up from 82 in 2013, Jeju is now ranked 21st in the world and seventh in Asia according to the Union of International Associations 2014 Global Rankings.
It continues to welcome several prestigious global events this year, including the Annual Meeting of the World Aquaculture Society which saw 4,000 guests, and the International Conference on Diabetes & Metabolism which welcomed 1,500 delegates from around the world.
The resort-style convention centre ICC Jeju is easily the island‚Äôs most popular meeting venue due to its size and availability of customisable space. The seven-storey venue, which is divisible into three spaces, can take up to 4,300 pax in theater-style and 3,500 in classroom-style. The 1,500-seat auditorium, built for concerts and performances, is also suitable for keynote presentations, conferences and seminars.
Kim Jay, MICE manager with ICC Jeju, said: ‚ÄúICC Jeju is unique because of its location along the beach, which allows delegates to also enjoy the view of the Pacific Ocean. The setting relaxes delegates even though they are in a convention centre, and this is something no other convention venues in the world can offer.‚ÄĚ
Acknowledging that convenience and accommocation quality are important considerations for business event planners and attendees, Jay pointed out that there are four ‚Äúfirst-class‚ÄĚ hotels within the Jungmun Resort Complex next to the ICC Jeju. They are the 429-key The Shilla Jeju, 500-room Lotte Hotel Jeju, 223-room Hyatt Regency Jeju, and the 90-key The Suites Hotel Jeju.
These luxury properties are also equipped with meeting facilities of their own.
E J Fieldhouse, Pacific World South Korea‚Äôs country manager and director of Kim‚Äôs Travel Service, told TTGmice that Jeju‚Äôs ‚Äúisland culture and breathtaking views‚ÄĚ have made it ‚Äúespecially attractive for incentive programmes‚ÄĚ.
The destination boasts three UNESCO World Natural Heritage sites ‚Äď Hallasan Mountain Natural Reserve, Geomunoreum Lava Tube System, and Seongsan Ilchulbong Tuff Ring. The island‚Äôs dramatic coastline can also be explored via the Jeju Olle, a series of coastal walking paths with different levels of difficulty.
Verena Han, sales and marketing manager of Yeha Tour Seoul, recommends three must-dos in Jeju
Dress up like a local
A trip to Korea will not be complete without trying on a hanbok, the country‚Äôs traditional dress. Don‚Äôt forget your camera because you will want to take this memory home to your family and friends.
Join a cooking class
To have a feel of the Korean culture, you must first experience its food.Having fun having a go at making the food yourself. Join a class and learn how to prepare various local favourites like kimchi, bulgogi, bibimbap, tteok (glutinous rice cakes) and even royal Korean cuisine.
Stay in a hanok
Break away from modern accommodation and experience the traditional housing and lifestyle at a hanok in some of the most famous hanok villages or hanokmaeul. Referred to as living museums, hanoks retain ancient Korean architecture and offer a memorable experience.
Mega property to up Jeju‚Äôs appeal
Jeju Island is the next destination to feature a Resorts World integrated resort. The US$1.8 billion (S$2.4 billion) development by Chinese developer Landing International Development and Genting Singapore will occupy 2.5 million square metres of land. It will be the largest property on the island.
Named Resorts World Jeju (RWJ), the property will open progressively from 2017. There will be hotels with more than 2,000 keys, with options including luxury villas and the island‚Äôs first six-star hotel.
For recreation, RWJ offers a destination spa, a sprawling family theme park and a casino.
Also built with meeting planners in mind, RWJ boasts a convention centre with fully equipped meeting and conference facilities.
The entire development is expected to be completed by 2019.
Welcoming the development at a groundbreaking ceremony earlier this February, Jeju governor Won Hee Ryong said: ‚ÄúJeju is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the region. It attracts more than 10 million visitors annually. We are confident that this iconic resort will further strengthen Jeju island‚Äôs reputation as a holiday paradise.‚ÄĚ
Genting Singapore‚Äôs executive chairman Lim Kok Thay, added: ‚ÄúRWJ will be a game changer in Jeju. We believe it can help Jeju attain its goal of surpassing 15 million tourists by 2018.‚ÄĚ