Seoul Tourism Organization Rapidly Boosting Seoul’s Meetings Industry Competitiveness

Asia’s Top Business Destination sets its Sights on US Market

Since the founding of the Seoul Tourism Organization (STO) in 2008, Seoul’s meetings industry has grown by leaps and bounds with industry associations and media around the world taking a keen interest. According to the latest statistics released by the Union of International Associations (UIA), Seoul was ranked fifth for the number of international conferences hosted in 2010. Seoul was also recognized as the best business travel city at the annual TTG Awards, ousting perennial winner Singapore.

A key element to Seoul’s success has been the Seoul Convention Bureau (SCB), a division of the Seoul Tourism Organization. Through the SCB’s international marketing campaigns, more and more associations and corporations are discovering and benefitting from Seoul’s comprehensive financial support system for conferences, while the SCB’s Bidding Clinic has helped numerous local associations boost the competitiveness of their international bids. With the Seoul Convention Bureau also aggressively marketing Seoul at industry exhibitions and trade shows around the globe, it was only a matter of time before South Korea’s capital was internationally recognized as a top meetings destination of the world.

STO president Mr. Hong Heegon, affirmed the continued need for overseas promotions.

“It’s one thing to have a comprehensive support package for meeting planners – and what our city offers is very comprehensive – but getting the message out to the world is the key. Engaging with meeting professionals at global industry events and putting Seoul on their doorstep is central to leaving a good, lasting impression. Now, we are seeing our efforts pay dividends, through the recent UIA rankings and the feedback we’ve received – including at the recent TTG Awards.”

The SCB’s tireless efforts have been a crucial factor in driving up the statistics and winning the accolades listed below:

Recent Awards Bids Secured
IT&CMA ‘Best Dinner Show’ 2008, 2009 2008 – 14 bids
2011 IMEX Academy Awards – Asia Pacific 2009 – 20 bids
‘Best BT-MICE City’ 2011 TTG Awards 2010 – 28 bids

In the four years that the SCB supported IT&CMA, Seoul was awarded ‘Best Dinner Show’ in both 2008 and 2009. This year, it won the ‘Best BT MICE City’ award at the 22nd Annual TTG Travel Awards in Bangkok. The SCB now looks forward to applying the same top quality events and service in the North American region.

Its first major foray into the U.S. market was at the inaugural IMEX America in Las Vegas on October 11, which drew 5,000 global industry professionals. Many dropped by the Seoul booth for appointments and presentations, where they were also able to meet with members of the Seoul MICE Alliance. The 72-member alliance is an assemblage of private and public sector organizations within the field of business events in the capital, such as convention centers, hotels, and travel agencies.

The SCB highly anticipates its participation will be an annual event, similar to its regular participation at Bangkok expo IT&CMA. Seoul plans to expand its role in future IMEX exhibitions, in particular through the hosting of promotional road shows. Recent road shows held at IT&CMA and in London last September have proven highly successful, and the SCB eagerly looks forward to topping their success in North America to secure Seoul’s position as a top 5 meetings destination for years to come.