Anticipating a challenging year ahead for tourism, against a backdrop of global economic slowdown and geopolitical unrest, Jeju’s tourism authority is looking at inbound business events to bolster its tourism performance in 2020.
Speaking to TTGmice through a translator, Young-Don Kang, chairman of Jeju CVB and director general of tourism bureau, Jeju Special Self-Governing Province, said Jeju depends heavily on tourism which contributes to more than 70 per cent of regional GDP.
“Tourism must get through the tough year in 2020,” Kang emphasised.
“To do that, we are changing our strategy to move away from low-cost package tours that currently form the bulk of our inbound arrivals. By focusing on courting more business events, we can raise the quality of inbound tourism because this segment generates more money.”
Bearing in mind that corporates tend to spend more prudently on events in a challenging business environment, and favour nearby destinations, Kang said Jeju CVB will target source markets that are closer in proximity.
He identified Malaysia, Taiwan, Vietnam, China and Indonesia as Jeju’s key geographical markets for corporate incentive programmes, which along with corporate meetings are the most common types of inbound business events to the island province.
Kang shared that Jeju hosted 281 international business events with 87,100 attendees, as of August 2019, which he said was “a significant increase”. The destination will continue to “be busy” in September and November, with most of the inbound events being incentive groups from China. At least 2,000 Chinese incentive visitors are expected to arrive during this period.
“We do not get many exhibitions here because of Jeju’s small population, but we have welcomed international association conferences and would like to host even more of them. We will welcome some prominent ones in 2020 and the years ahead,” Kang said.
Some of the upcoming prominent association conferences include the 2021 International Union of Materials Research Societies International Conference Asia, 12th Annual Conference of Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine International Society Asia Pacific Region in 2022, and the 19th World Congress of the Federation of the Deaf in 2023.
To raise Jeju’s appeal for business events, tourism authorities are working to improve direct air connectivity. Jeju presently enjoys direct air access from several cities in China and Japan, as well as Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia), Taipei (Taiwan) and Hong Kong. Industry insiders said a South Korean airline was working to launch the first direct flights between Singapore and Jeju in mid-2020.
“Our other enduring strengths as a MICE destination include our visa-free policy for international visitors and resort vibe that allows business event attendees to feel like they are here on a holiday,” Kang explained, adding that new developments coming up soon will be critical in Jeju’s ability to attract more business events.
One of the new developments to watch is the Jeju Dream Tower mixed-use complex, which will house the 1,600-key Grand Hyatt Jeju, event venues, a shopping mall that specialises in Korean fashion and casino. Slated to open in June 2020, Grand Hyatt Jeju boasts a collection of 14 F&B outlets, most of which will have private dining spaces, and the brand’s signature Residence event spaces.
Come 2022, Jeju will also welcome a new exhibition centre next to the existing ICC Jeju.
According to Kang, ICC Jeju has reached its maximum capacity and a new venue is needed to allow the destination to attract more and larger events.
Jang Sung Mi, marketing department, manager, ICC Jeju, shared that the yet-to-be-named venue will offer 39,000m2 of space through an exhibition hall and four conference rooms.