The MICE Industry Leads Busan into the Future
BUSAN, KOREA — Busan, which was ranked as the fourth best city among Asia's top convention cities by the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA), has completed the two-year extension work at the Busan Exhibition and Convention Center (BEXCO) and is poised to move beyond Asia to become a global convention city.
Nam-Sik Hur, Mayor of Busan, said, “We are set to nurture Busan into a hub for exhibitions and conventions in North Asia in order to catapult Busan into one of the world’s top 10 destinations for international meetings by 2020. Busan will be developed into a tourism-friendly city where both business and marketing occur seamlessly.”
Busan, Korea's second largest city has proved its worth as a host city of international gatherings. To date the city has successfully held a multitude of international meetings such as the G20 Finance Ministers’ Meeting in 2010, the Fourth High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness (HLF-4) in December 2011, Busan International Motor Show 2012 and Lions Club International Convention Busan 2012. As part of continued efforts to evolve into a global convention city, the Busan City Government opened Exhibition Center 2 and Auditorium at BEXCO in June, 2012 and Busan Cinema Center in 2011, and is currently working on the construction of a MICE complex that will be linked to the special tourism district of Haeundae and East Busan Tourism Complex (EBTC).
Busan has been recognized as the world’s top city for international-level meetings. Busan was ranked the fourth most ideal destination for international conventions in Asia and 15th among 1,406 cities in 183 nations around the world, according to the Union of International Associations (UIA)’s 2011 Convention City rankings. On top of this, Busan is ranked as the third most “rapidly growing convention city” in the world. Such splendid international rankings were due in large part to BEXCO’s proximity to the Haeundae district and hotel-heavy districts. Busan, Asia’s number one non-capital city among the list, has attracted as many international meetings as Seoul, Beijing, Tokyo, and Singapore.
Mayor Hur said, “We will continue to build networks among the private and public sectors, industries, academia and research institutes to gain a competitive edge over rivaling nations and cities around the globe.” The MICE (Meeting, Incentives, Convention and Exhibition) industry is dubbed as “the goose that laid the golden eggs” or “a smokestack-free golden industry”. This is due to the fact that the MICE industry is a high value-added, large-scale industry that creates synergy with upstream and downstream industries including meeting organizers, planning companies, meeting facilities, accommodation, and restaurants. This is why major cities around the world are jostling to ride out economic recessions by bolstering their MICE industries.
Since the opening of BEXCO in 2001, Busan has accumulated its MICE expertise by engaging in a host of international events such as the final draw for the 2002 FIFA World Cup Korea/Japan, the 2005 Asia Pacific Economic Conference (APEC) and the Fourth High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness (HLF-4) in 2011.
In the midst of the EU fiscal crisis and economic downturns in the G2 (the US and China), Busan, armed with ample convention experience and its stunning natural environment, has unveiled its ambitious plan to upgrade Busan into a hub of exhibitions and conventions in North Asia in the hope of becoming one of the world’s top 10 cities for intentional meetings by 2020. Meanwhile, Busan has designated June 13 as Busan Exhibition and Convention Day and held a ceremonial event, which was attended by MICE experts from Korea and abroad. The event featured lectures, forums, and citizen tours to convention facilities, designed to draw participation from Busan citizens.
Large-scale Events Are in the Wings
A total of KRW 191.5 billion, including a government outlay was poured into the construction of Exhibition Center 2 at BEXCO. The key features of the extension work are Auditorium (a 4,002-seat, terraced, indoor meeting hall), which is the largest in Southeast Asia, and Exhibition Center 2.
Mayor Hur mentioned, “In the fashion as BEXCO, the centerpiece of Busan’s exhibition and convention industry, has played a pivotal role in boosting the local industry over the past decade, we expect BEXCO to continuously buttress Busan city’s competitiveness and rejuvenate the local economy. This can be done by entrenching Busan as an international meeting venue amid global cities’ cutthroat competition for hosting international events.
The gem of BEXCO’s enlargement, Auditorium, at 32 by 16 m, is viewed as the optimal facility for large-scale international meetings as it is equipped with a large stage, big screens, and eight simultaneous interpreting booths. During the low season, Auditorium will serve as a multi-purpose performance hall for events such as music concerts and corporate culture events, allowing Busan citizens an opportunity to appreciate performances in a high-tech, high-quality venue. After celebrating the completion of Exhibition Center 2 with a performance event, BEXCO has hosted a series of international events.
Last month, a new-concept art fair “Art Show Busan 2012,” originated by BEXCO took place, and the 95th Lions Club International Convention Busan 2012 was held for five days beginning on June 22. These were the largest among the international, private-sector conventions that Busan has hosted to date. On top of that, the 19th International Conference on Magnetism, attended by 2,000 magnetism experts and Nobel laureates from 20 nations, took place for six days starting from June 8 at BEXCO. The 2012 IWA (International Water Association) World Water Congress & Exhibition is schedule for mid-September, which will include participation by approximately 4,500 water experts from 130 nations.
MICE Creates Synergy with Abundant Tourism Infrastructure
Busan boasts numerous tourist attractions such as Haeundae Beach, Beomeosa (Temple of the Nirvana Fish), Haedong Yonggung Temple, Taejongdae (a natural park) and gigantic shopping facilities including traditional markets (Jagalchi Fish Market and Gukje (international) Market).
Busan’s landmark “Pusan Cinema Center” (the new home of the Busan International Film Festival (BIFF)), the Gwangan Bridge, and the Nurimaru APEC House have become world-famous tourist attractions. In particular, the special tourism district of Haeundae houses an array of upscale hotels and business hotels. The Busan city government feels that if BEXCO takes Haeundae into account when it hosts a variety of exhibitions and international meetings, the development of industries related to MICE and shopping and tourism industries will subsequently thrive. Moreover, once the East Busan Tourism Complex (EBTC) is completed, Busan will take a step closer to becoming a global convention city where tourism and conventions go hand in hand.
“To make Busan a business-friendly city, we are pushing for multi-faceted measures that will pave the way for an easing of regulations on the supply of industrial complexes, business funds, technologies and marketing activities. As for the EBTC, a reduction in the green belt zones and the selection of tourism complexes will be pursued to divide the EBTC into four zones (Urban Leisure Zone, Theme Park Zone, Beach Zone and Leports Zone). Currently site renovations are underway,” said Mayor Hur.