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Seoul announces vision for inclusive city growth

New vision and projects to emphasise mutual growth between business events industry and locals.

Following the restructure of Seoul Tourism Organization (STO) from a public-private partnership into a government-funded foundation in May this year, STO has launched its new vision, ‘value tourism, together with Seoul’.

Led by STO’s president and CEO, Jaesung Rhee, the new vision aims to create a sustainable business events and tourism city with local residents.

Some of the planned projects for this new vision include lifelong tourism education opportunities for Seoul residents of all ages. For children and youth, STO is looking at establishing a theme park where participants can try hands-on experiences related to jobs in the tourism and business events industry.

For residents over 18, STO plans to support career tests and acquisition of certifications related to tourism and meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (MICE), such as interpretation, tour guide and venue management-related certifications, and opportunities to participate at international events. For older adults and seniors looking to re-enter the job market, STO is aiming to set up job-matching programmes and certification for education and support as well.

As part of the planned projects, the Discover Seoul Pass – a purchased pass originally exclusive for international visitors that provides free admission and discounts at major attractions – will also be made available to local residents. STO claims this will help visitors, the local community, and the tourism industry experience mutual growth and coexistence.

During STO’s week-long “Seoul Tourism Hearing Week” from 27 August to 3 September, venue representatives and professional conference organisers (PCOs) voiced their ideas and comments on STO’s new vision and planned projects.

Hotel representatives expressed their wishes that nearby hotels be included in the planning of an international MICE complex to be built in Jamsil by 2025, and requested more cooperation between unique venues and hotels on food and beverage services. Hotel representatives also suggested selling the local version of the Discover Seoul Pass at hotels, helping both travellers and hotel marketing.

Representatives from convention facilities mentioned that as infrastructure like the international MICE complex in Jamsil grows, there will be a greater need to conduct joint bidding of major international meetings and events.

PCOs stated that they want MICE to be recognised as an independent industry and STO to look for ways to develop the industry further. They mentioned that since major business events are usually bid two to three years ahead of the event, there needs to be extended support and planning to successfully attract such events.

Rhee notes the feedback and plans to create more opportunities to share its projects, direction, and status and listen to the opinions of residents, visitors and tourism industry professionals.