Jeju: Island Allure

How does one entice a company that wants to treat more than11,000 of its most industrious salespeople to an off-site incentive to visit your destination? Officials of Jeju (South Korea’s largest island), backed by the Korea Tourism Organization (KTO), came up with a novel offer: name a street in the customer’s honour.

The clever pitch worked, and late last year, Baojian, a direct-sales giant in China, dispatched 11,200 of its best representatives on a four-day vacation to Jeju, followed by three days in Seoul.

The resort island is no stranger to handling large groups. A few weeks before the Baojian delegation arrived in mid-September, 2,000 employees of another direct-seller, Impetus, also spent part of their reward vacation there.

So as not to congest Jeju and tax its resources, the Chinese guests arrived in eight waves at different times over two weeks. Each batch consisted of about 1,400 people. According to the Jeju Convention and Visitors Bureau, the group as a whole commandeered 15,000 hotel rooms, with each sub-group needing about 280 buses to transport participants during the six-day itinerary lined up for them. This included a gala dinner at the state-of-the-art ICC Jeju (International Convention Center Jeju) – pictured in the Contact Box – and tours of iconic attractions such as the colourful Jeju Folk Village Museum and majestic Sung-san Sunrise Peak, as well as lunches and dinners to enjoy a gamut of Korean cuisine.

Sparing no effort to ensure the group’s experiences in Jeju were all memorable, the local government invested KRW270 million (US$234,000) in designing a rainbow of cultural presentations, with some taking place on stages in public areas. As expected, one of the most photographed highlights was the unveiling of a marker designating a major street in the Yeon-dong district as “Baojian Street”. Jeju officials and Baojian have agreed that the name will be kept for five years.

With Jeju proclaimed late last year as one of the latest “New Seven Wonders of Nature”, tourism drumbeaters have a new marketing hook that they are certain to capitalise on vigorously. Yang Young-Keun, president of the Jeju Tourism Organization, told Mix that such recognition would help raise the island’s budding profile as a serious meeting and incentive travel player.

While admitting that direct international air links were currently limited to China (Beijing, Shanghai and Shenyang), Japan (Tokyo, Nagoya, Osaka and Fukuoka) and Taiwan (Taipei and Kaohsiung), Yang remained confident that Jeju’s blend of scenic attractions, golf and hiking activities and wealth of hot springs would keep it foremost in the minds of event planners overseas, particularly those specialising in niche experiences.

Since opening in 1993, the ICC Jeju has proven a tremendous boost for international gatherings, attracting events such as the 53rd PATA Annual Conference in 2004 and the 2010 Korea, China and Japan Summit. These achievements, as well as increased government support for the business events industry, have helped improve Jeju’s position as an international convention city in the rankings of the UIA (Union of International Associations), which in 2010 awarded it the slots of seventh in Asia and 27th in 
the world.

It may be some time before a mega-delegation such as the Baojian group – certainly South Korea’s biggest visiting delegation in recorded memory – descends again on Jeju, but the experience showcased the capabilities of this determined destination and its professionals. The success of such a large-scale event will act as a positive poster child for attracting like-minded corporations in the future.

CONTACT Jeju Tourism Organization or Jeju Convention and Visitors Bureau

TEL +82 64 740 6000 or +82 64 739 1806




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