More attractions for MICE visitors

To cater to the increasingly demanding needs of MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences, and exhibitions) clients, Korea has made efforts to come up with interesting new activities for them.

Major cities that have ambitions to boost their MICE market such as Seoul and Incheon have been developing new attractions.

Among these are German carmaker BMW's new test drive centre on Yeongjong Island in Incheon which is its first in Asia. The 77 billion won (S$92 million) facility sprawls over the 240,000 sq m site.

Open to the public since August, it has a 2.6-km closed circuit racetrack as well as a training academy, kids' area and showroom.

There are six courses available. A basic driving programme with an instructor costs 60,000 won per hour, while a three-hour course costs between 100,000 won and 220,000 won on weekdays.

BMW's fifth R&D centre is also located at the centre. The 20-staff centre focuses on navigation systems designed for Korean terrain and car battery technology.

Meanwhile in Seoul, the Zaha Hadid-designed Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP) was built under the auspices of the Seoul Metropolitan Government and is the newest and most iconic landmark of the Korean design industry.

It serves as a key venue for design-related shows and conferences, exhibitions and other events and gatherings.

The 65,000 sq m site has been designed as a cultural hub at the centre of Dongdaemun, an historic district of Seoul now renowned for its 24-hour shopping and cafes.

DDP is a blend of traditional buildings, relics and cutting-edge modern multicultural facilities. Seoul Fortress, Igansumun Water Gate (floodgate channelling water from Namsan Mountain to Cheonggyecheon Stream and Seoul Fortress), Dongdaemun History Hall, Dongdaemun Excavation Site, Dongdaemun Sports Memorial Hall, Event Hall, and Design Gallery can all be found there.

It is meant to be a place for people of all ages; a catalyst for the instigation and exchange of ideas and for new technologies and media to be explored.

The variety of public spaces within DDP including art/ exhibition halls, conference hall, design museum/ exhibition hall/pathway, design labs and academy hall, media centre, seminar rooms and designers lounge, and a design market open 24 hours a day enables DDP to present the widest diversity of exhibitions and events that feed the cultural vitality of the city.

Among the many other new developments and products available for MICE events, Blue Airlines has launched the first helicopter ride service in Seoul.

DDP and the Floating Island are also among the latest developments that offer great venue options for organisers that are looking for unique venues for their events.

Unique experiences include the Sheraton Grande Walkerhill Hotel's events to promote hansik, or Korea's traditional cuisine.

Other packages have been organised by various tour organisers in Singapore as well with a recent tour including a chartered SilkAir flight to Jeju island.

And helping to connect the various destinations, Korean domestic carriers and the Korean Rail service have also been providing new services.

Starting from June 30, Korail began operation of KTX express trains that directly link to and from Incheon International Airport reducing the trouble of having to transfer.

The trains operate between Incheon International Airport and major cities outside Seoul, like Busan, Daejeon and Gwangju.

These KTX trains will still make stops in Seoul as trains departing from Busan Station, Jinju Station and Daejeon Station will make short stops at Seoul Station before heading to the airport, while trains from Gwangju Station, Mokpo Station and Yeosu Station will stop by Yongsan Station before they head to Incheon International Airport.

This article was first published on Oct 3, 2014.
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