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Home >  BULLETINSoutheast Asia boosts Korea incentive business
Southeast Asia boosts Korea incentive business
Marketing efforts in region pay off in face of dramatic slump in Chinese visitor numbers after tensions over missiles. Martin Donovan reports

4 Jan 2018

EFFORTS by Korea MICE Bureau to diversify into the Southeast Asia market as diplomatic tensions caused visitor numbers from China to plummet have been reaping dividends.

The number of incentive travel tourists who visited South Korea in 2017, excluding those from China, reached a total of 183,307 – a 25 per cent increase over the previous year, Korea Tourism Organisation (KTO) figures show.

KTO said the country’s incentive travel market expanded as a result of an upward trend in visitors from Southeast Asia brought about by economic growth and the efforts of Korea MICE bureau in those markets. Countries elsewhere that had previously shown weak demand also contributed to the figures.

More: Ease in Beijing-Seoul tensions bode well for visitor revival

Tour groups visiting from China dropped some 80 per cent, according to officials, after Beijing reacted angrily to a United States missile-defence system being deployed by Seoul in the face of rocket test firing by North Korea.

Tension between Beijing and Seoul has eased since November with the two sides agreeing to more cultural and visitor exchanges.

KTO had been targeting Southeast Asia and Middle East groups before tour-group cancellations gathered pace in early March, but the THAAD missile crisis showed the importance of these regions and how South Korea’s tourism industry benefited from Chinese visitors.

The biggest increase in incentive travel visitors in 2017 came from Vietnam (56,246 , 90.5 per cent), Philippines (4,855, 128.7) and Malaysia (16,681 , 27.3).

More: Missile tension forces conference switch to Brisbane

Changsu Jung, Korea Tourism’s CEO, said considerable growth also came from countries that had not been considered strong incentive-travel markets. He said these were now being targeted by KTO.

KTO meetings and incentives team director, Chulbeum Park, said: “We have taken several steps to seek new markets and increase the tourist arrivals in Korea.

“Our major move was to expand the existing support system to attract more incentive groups to Korea last year,” Park said.

In 2017, KTO launched a new corporate meetings and incentive support programme and held several road shows overseas together with other Korean tourism providers and convention bureaus.

Main picture: An incentive travel group from Indonesia on the ski slopes of Pyeongchang, one of the sites for the 2018 Winter Olympics

Tags :
Incentives   Seoul   South Korea  

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