How Seoul’s MICE industry recovers its business: slow and steady wins the race.

MICE industry in Seoul makes a comeback


Seoul cautiously resumed on-site MICE events starting with exhibition and congress in June. Though few conventions were on the event calendar of COEX (the most well-known venue of Seoul) it started to have large-scaled exhibitions and more on each month from June. From July to December, COEX has about 8 international exhibitions and conventions listed on the event calendar even though it is very vulnerable to abrupt changes. Other convention centres in Seoul such as SETEC, aT Centre, and Sejong University Conference Centre also started holding events under thorough quarantine measures around the same time.

The Korea Landscape and Garden Expo 2020 held from June 3–6 was the first exhibition in 3 months since the industry was put on hold followed by Seoul International Dental Exhibition and Scientific Congress 2020 (SIDEX 2020). SIDEX 2020 was the first large-scale event that had 4,860 attendees in two days from 6–7 June. Enforcing the event stirred some worry between the stakeholders in regards to handling the safety measures for COVID-19, considering the probability of having too big of a crowd from its known popularity. However, organising body of the SIDEX 2020 had a spotless success in providing quarantine measures—keeping the attendees safe and well and disinfecting the venues and equipment often. The success led to a notification on the official website two weeks later announcing that no infected cases occurred from the event or anyone in relation.

Even though the gatherings seem risky, most people practice the safety measures at personal levels on a regular basis so gatherings are slowly stepping back into the comfort zone for some people. The 10th Korea Smart Device Trade Show 2020 (KITAS), which was held from July 23 to 25, welcomed 19,862 in 3 days. KITAS was one of 7 international MICE events that happened at COEX in July. It is almost unfair to compare the current situation to the time before the outbreak. This difficult situation has been prolonged for more than half a year now and there has not been many positive prospects for the near future of global MICE industry or tourism. However, Seoul is keeping its place on the top for recovery and on the bottom for severity, according to the Global COVID-19 Index released. The MICE industry of Seoul is catching up like a tortoise in the classic story: slow and steady wins the race.

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