Several years ago, the South Korean government revealed its intention to turn the Incheon region northwest of Seoul into a major logistics hub.
Given that the country’s award-winning Incheon International Airport was located there and the surrounding area was largely undeveloped, this proved to offer major advantages.
Incheon is within three and a half hours’ flight of 51 major cities in China, Japan and eastern Russia. There are also regular ferry services between Incheon and Dalian, Qingdao, Tianjin and Weihai in China.
At the heart of the transformation was the Incheon Free Economic Zone (IFEZ), to attract foreign investment with generous subsidies and tax incentives. Central to the project’s success was the creation of infrastructure worth billions of dollars. The aim is the creation of what will become a satellite city of Seoul, with all the range of residential, business, leisure and educational facilities that can be found in the capital.
One of Incheon’s three sub-districts is Songdo International City, which is built on 6sqkm of reclaimed land. Songdo has been designed to be green and futuristic and its major conference centre Songdo Convensia, which opened in 2008, reflects this mission.
The technological support is impressive, aside from cutting-edge projectors and audiovisual equipment, there are a number of high-tech features that will impress conference organisers.
Among the centre’s key propositions is an innovative use of technology. The second floor ballroom uses a multi-array screen. This divides the screen into three split-screens, allowing the display of three different images fed from three different media, such as live camera, DVD or from the internet.
There is also an automatic sound-tracking device. This means that the camera focuses in on the person using the microphone whether on stage or in the audience.
There are four booths in the main hall for simultaneous translation in up to eight different languages. The translations are transmitted by infrared signals, offering a clearer, crisper alternative to other networks.
As for its green credentials, delegates can explore beaches and the nearly 150 small islands around the centre. There are walking and bicycle trails too.
Among the more unusual activities delegates can become involved in is a temple stay at Ganghwa Lotus Lantern International Meditation Centre. Here, guests can learn about Buddhist meditation techniques, Korean calligraphy and stay overnight with the monks.
There are also five golf courses within easy reach of the centre.
Numerous accommodation options are available around Incheon, with six hotels within 15 minutes’ walking distance of the centre, such as the five-star Hyatt Regency Incheon, Sheraton Incheon, Best Western Premier Incheon and Ramada Songdo.
Misun Ha, public relations manager, Hyatt Regency Incheon, says: “Hyatt Regency Incheon frequently works with Incheon Convention Centre. For example, the 38th SKAL Asia Congress was held at Songdo Convensia while the farewell dinner and opening ceremony took place at the Hyatt.
“With the development of Songdo, Korea’s MICE industry has another core area. The industry used to be focused on Seoul, in particular the Gangnam area, but Korea now has the perfect place for international MICE events in Songdo, thanks to its accessibility, facilities and business environment.
“The opening of the Incheon Bridge this October will make it even more convenient to travel between Songdo and Incheon International Airport,” she says.
1st floor: Two exhibition halls with more than 8,000sqm of space. Sixteen meeting rooms.
2nd floor: Premier Ballroom with 1,700sqm of space. There are three other conference rooms.
3rd floor: VIP boardroom, three other rooms.