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Seoul shakes off China row with 2,700 from Southeast Asia


Seoul shakes off China row with 2,700 from Southeast Asia

Change in marketing strategy credited for wooing Indonesian and Malaysia groups after drop in Chinese visitors


INCENTIVE arrivals from Indonesia and Malaysia numbering 2,700 are among the success stories for Seoul as the business events industry in South Korea recovers from a huge drop in Chinese visitors following a diplomatic spat.


A 1,200-strong delegation from Sahajidah Hai-O, a Malaysian manufacturer of water filters, and health and beauty products, visited Seoul between January 15-22 in waves of eight groups.


Tupperware Indonesia is due to send 1,500 incentive qualifiers to Seoul in March. The teams who help manufacture and distribute the brand’s kitchen containers are looking forward to a Hallyu or K-pop experience.


Tourism officials in South Korea credit a surge in incentive group arrivals from Southeast Asia to a change in marketing strategy following a dramatic slump in the numbers of Chinese tourists after Beijing objected to the placing of a US missile-defence system in early 2017.


Southeast Asia boosts Korea incentive business


Diplomatic relations between Beijing and Seoul have since began to ease following talks last November which saw signs on cultural exchanges being renewed and more tourism business opportunities being explored.


Seoul Tourism Organisation officials have said that the number of visitors from China dropped by about 80 per cent on previous arrivals as tensions escalated in March 2017.


“The success of acquiring these tourist groups is due to the aggressive marketing efforts of the city to attract Southeast Asian tourist groups instead of Chinese ones,” said Kim Jae-yong, head of Seoul city’s tourism policy.


“We will do our best to provide unforgettable memories and excellent hospitality services during their stay in Seoul, so that so they will want to return in the future,” he said.


A Seoul Convention Bureau spokesman said city officials had been working with Korea Tourism Organisation and their counterparts in Incheon and Gyeonggi on ways to capture the Southeast Asia market.


Visits were made to India, Indonesia, Philippines, Malaysia and Singapore in the first half of the year, followed by Vietnam last November. Marketing campaigns were also carried out in Japan and Taiwan on attracting MICE groups to Seoul with customised tours and new teambuilding programmes.


Ease in Beijing-Seoul tensions bode well for visitor revival


Seoul also benefited from taking part in Imex America last October and by hosting fam tours for incentive travel organisers.


Seoul Tourism Organisation and the city government supports foreign groups who visit the city by providing 20,000 won (about US$18) to 30,000 KRW per foreign visitor each in a group a stay in the city of at least two consecutive nights. 


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