Seoul – The City Where Sustainable Transformation Is ON


In 2020, global tourism and MICE industry were hit hard by COVID-19, with international tourism decreased drastically, and Seoul saw almost 80% of its MICE events canceled. However, Seoul is a city of transformation, which holds a history of overcoming crisis and advancing itself to better suit the needs of the global MICE industry in the ongoing pandemic.

Over a year with COVID-19, going back to the time before the COVID-19 outbreak may no longer be an option, however moving forward together will be one. Indeed, Seoul Tourism Organization (STO) never stops and it is ALWAYS ON, continues to strive and initiate various efforts in developing measures to build a more resilient tourism economy in post COVID-19 era. These include preparing plans to support the sustainable recovery of tourism, promoting the digital transition and move to a greener tourism system, and rethinking tourism for the future.

In Seoul, the SMA members are the key players of the MICE industry and through various campaigns will provide them the opportunities to share on their products and planning in the post COVID-19 era, as well as staying supportive for each other. The Seoul Tourism Organization and the Seoul MICE Alliance (SMA) are coming together to overcome the challenges and show how Seoul is implementing changes via a slogan of “Sustainable Transformation ON” under 3 keywords, namely  safety,  digitalisation and eco-friendly to local industry and global society.

To mark the 10th anniversary, a new “Special MICE Awards” was unveiled to recognise the efforts of SMA members. “The Best SMA Member” award will be given to one of the members that attends SMA event until October and the award is scheduled to be announced at the annual SMA meeting in November. SMA members will vote online to choose the Best SMA Member by themselves.

 2021 “Sustainable Transformation ON” Campaign

In August 2021, Seoul Convention Bureau (SCB) conducted a survey campaign by asking Social Network Service (SNS) followers on which keyword transformed their daily lives the most among the many changes due to the COVID-19. The followers will upload their postings on social media after choosing the best keyword that fits the business with the hashtag “#Sustainable_Transformation_ON”. Stay tuned on the campaign until September!

As a result, safety (42.7%) was the most mentioned keyword followed by digitalisation (32.5%) and eco-friendly (24.8%). Through the 2021 campaign with three essential keywords, Seoul conveys positive messages to global MICE society that the city is fully prepared for any type of MICE events from on-site, online to hybrid even in the era of the prolonged pandemic, which focus safety, digitalisation and eco-friendliness.

In the new normal era, STO is doing a great job in handling the quarantine measures. As a multifaceted, quarantine support is offered to make MICE events in Seoul the safest. The safety support is divided into 3 parts such as venue, participants and the host. The venue for international conferences and exhibitions can be equipped with scheduled disinfecting services, personal sanitising materials and a disinfecting gate at the entrance.

In addition, international MICE participants can stay safe as insurance and concierge services are prepared for their reassurance. STO also distributed Seoul MICE safety operation manuals to remind MICE visitors on safety measures. With strict onsite monitoring at event sites, Seoul is definitely a safe MICE city! 

In new normal era, the Seoul MICE industry is transforming via digitalisation amidst tackling the various situation, moving towards an attractive virtual destination for online business events. To keep the events running in ongoing pandemic, STO developed Virtual Seoul Platform where visitors can experience the unique beauty of Seoul, as well as trying to make participants feel like they are really in Seoul! In addition, major MICE venues in Seoul have been converted to virtual event venues and migrated to the ultimate virtual platform. With cutting-edge digital technologies, Seoul is the ultimate destination for AR or VR exhibitions, online meeting platforms and more!

Starting with the “2020 UIA Asia-Pacific Round Table”, the first virtual conference hosted by STO, the platform was used by 16 events including various international conferences and exhibitions since the second half of 2020. On 21 July 2021, the 2021 Seoul Virtual MICE Show: SEOUL LIVE ON also uses the ultimate Virtual Seoul platform, with the slogan “Always Connect ON Seoul” showing Seoul has never stopped and will be there to keep everyone connected continuously.

In supporting the MICE industry, Seoul Convention Bureau organised online shopping promotion with Seoul MICE Alliance (SMA) on the website of one of the major shopping channels of Korea for a week from 7th to 14th July 2021, including an hour of livestream shopping of yacht packages from Golden Blue Marina was offered with popular influencers involvement on 9th July. The 13 SMA members from 4 categories, namely unique venue, entertainment, transportation and hotel, stepped out of their comfort zone and showcased luxurious products that used to offer for business travellers, to local Seoulites according to the public’s interest.

During the event, a range of attractive and affordable products including hotel packages, restaurant vouchers, city tour bus tickets, cruise tickets and yacht packages were offered with a long validity due to the uncertain situation of COVID-19. The most significant sales recorded when the shopping host showed her actual ride on the yacht with the gorgeous view of Hanging River as the backdrop, reflecting many likes to enjoy the exclusiveness in the nature with loved ones at reasonable package price.

In order to offer sustainable business trips, SMA members took the initiative to prepare practical and convenient eco-friendly solutions such as bamboo hotel room keys, water bottles without label, eco-friendly packaging, vegan lunch box and more! During your stay in Seoul, you can become part of a meaningful transformation via #Sustainable_Transformation_ON, starting from small changes.

Recap on 2020 “Stand Strong Together” Campaign

When the global society started to acknowledge the crisis that had begun with the outbreak of COVID-19, the sectors in Seoul MICE industry welcomed an incentive tour group of 4,600 participants from Indonesia. Based on the recommended guidelines for the potential emergency by Seoul Convention Bureau (SCB), local DMC provided additional protective materials and advised the staff to promote public health routines enthusiastically. Most importantly, the participants enjoyed the time of their life in the city they waited to come and visit under the strict safety measures. In order to boost the positive energy of Seoul MICE industry, Seoul Tourism Organization (STO) jointly conducted an Online campaign named “Stand Strong Together” with Seoul MICE Alliance (SMA) members, which brought back cooperative energy to the MICE industry.

Due to the uncertainty of the pandemic, many switched to do more interactions in the digital society. The Seoul’s cooperative work has also been moved to online as a form of a campaign for the period of  9th April to 22nd May 2020. During the event, the SMA members and their followers were invited to pump up the great spirit under the slogan of #Stand_Strong_Together. At the end of campaign, there were 68 postings from 40 SMA members on the social media channels with cheerful and supportive messages from all over the world, with a total of 194,383 engagements all together. From the campaign results, it seems like many followers desired to cheer up the SMA members from entertainment and transportation as they faced bigger obstacles and challenges compared to other categories in this pandemic due to the social distancing that seems to be a contrary to what MICE industry has been.

At the end of 2020 “Stand Strong Together” Campaign, the local industry expressed their gratitude to their followers who participated in the events that SMA members organised through their own social media channels. The meaningful campaign was successful in sending the supportive message “Stand Strong Together” to the local industry and further to the entire globe.

The ongoing pandemic which has become part of our daily routine due to the global spread of COVID-19, is transforming everyday life. Let’s use it as fuel to move pass the torment, to the light at the end of tunnel. Stay safe till we meet again in Seoul, an innovative city where sustainable transformation is on.

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