Seoul Tourism Organization (STO) is taking steps to ensure Muslim and Indian vegetarian travellers are well taken care of as the city starts to look more seriously at growing business event arrivals from Malaysia, Indonesia and India – source markets seen to bear great growth potential.
Seoul Tourism Organization, Tourism and MICE Division, executive director, Joon Lee, told TTGmice that Indonesia, especially, shows great promise.
“About 100 employees of AXA Indonesia (an insurance company) visited Seoul as part of an incentive trip in April, and the activity gained wide publicity as well as the attention of our mayor, who joined the delegates for a bicycle ride along the Hangang river,” Lee shared.
“This illustrates the high-level recognition and support Seoul authorities give to incoming business event groups.”
Bearing in mind that Islam is the dominant religion of Malaysia and Indonesia, STO created the eight-page Muslim Tourists Guide. It is available online (www.miceseoul.com/tool-kits/) and can be downloaded in PDF. It lists 84 Muslim-friendly restaurants (classified under four categories – Halal-certified, self-certified, Muslim-friendly, pork-free), locations of prayer rooms, details of Seoul Central Masjid, service provided to Muslims at major hotels, and details of Muslim-friendly medical institutions.
“Religious considerations are also paid to Indians, as some of them have special dietary needs too. We are making sure Seoul has restaurants and caterers that offer vegetarian meals,” Lee said, adding that temple vegetarian cuisine could be an appealing option for this segment of Indian visitors.
According to Jin Hyeok Park, director of Seoul Convention Bureau, in-market destination promotion has always included messages that convey the city’s Muslim- and Indian-friendly environment for visitors.
“Seoul welcomes visitors of all shapes and sizes. One example (of what we have done) is the India MICE Roadshow held in March 2017, jointly hosted with the Korea Tourism Organization, Incheon Tourism Organization and Gyeonggi Tourism Organization. The India MICE Roadshow forms part of efforts by the STO and other regions to promote Seoul and other parts of (South) Korea to India and other Muslim nations as a welcoming environment,” Park explained.
“In addition, as part of our Seoul MICE Alliance private-public framework, we have local DMCs that target the Indian market. We provide them with information on Seoul and its Indian-friendly environment, where applicable,” he added.
Park also revealed that a Tourism Academy is in the plans for 2018 to provide education on business events. Lessons would include “how to take special care of travellers that require certain attention, such as Indian and Muslim individuals”, he said.