South Korean MICE tourism, especially the incentive travel sector, has been growing over the last years positively affecting the country’s tourism industry, according to the Korea Tourism Organization (KTO).
Thanks to the advanced technology as well as vibrant culture, South Korea has become one of the most popular Asian destinations for incentive tours. A number of major companies from the neighboring nations boosted the Korean MICE market last year and this year the trend is expected to continue. Several companies from Southeast Asia and China announced their plans to send their best employees to the country as a part of a reward program.
Korean tourism board also relies on the positive impact of the recent expo organized in Songdo, west of Seoul, called "Korea MICE Expo 2016", which should further boost the MICE sector. KTO announced that they would support the provincial governments in their efforts to promote the country as an attractive incentive travel destination.
Besides an opportunity for major convention centers to present their meeting places and tourism destinations, the expo also saw various discussions on the development of customized programs, improved connection to people, and the ways to combine the MICE sector with the sharing economy. The expo also saw a strong presence of Chinese officials interested in the incentive tours in South Korea, thanks to the popularity of Korean celebrities and dramas in China.
According to tour organizers, such incentives are very effective tools for the companies to motivate their staff to perform better. The employees are allowed to take their family or friends on the tour, which is very tempting for many of them. Company and government officials on the other hand prefer leisure tours or factory inspections.
The representatives of a Thai tour agency, Journey Land, that organizes group tours around South Korea, know very well how popular the incentive travel programs are. Their hands-on experiences in the sectors like infrastructure and advanced IT are very attractive especially in winter. The tours include skiing and other winter sports in Hwacheon and Gangwon Province and PyeongChang, which is especially attractive for the employees coming from a tropical country like Thailand.
Besides the winter season activities, many incentive travel programs also focus on visiting the sites where popular movies were filmed. Especially the Korean drama "Descendants of the Sun" has a massive fan base in China and Thailand, and people are highly interested in seeing the places connected with it.