Jeju eyes ASEAN market
Island raises tourism curtain on new markets and business segments.
NTO The Jeju Tourism Organization (JTO) is now going after South-east Asia, capitalising on its culture, nature and film sites to attract the market.
While long popular among domestic holidaymakers, Jeju only recently started exploring new market segments such as regional leisure travel and MICE.
Singapore and Malaysia have been identified as potential market sources. Arrivals from Singapore grew 14.5 per cent in 2009, from 28,580 arrivals in 2008 to 32,727, while Malaysia sent 14,806 nationals last year, up 12 per cent from 2008.
“Our target markets are countries that are a four- to five-hour flight away. For the time being, that would be South-east Asia, Japan and China.”
Jeju Tourism Organization
JTO president Park Yung-Soo said: “Numbers from Malaysia are still small but grew significantly last year after we participated in its consumer travel fairs. The potential is there.”
JTO’s marketing budget is five billion won (US$5 million).
Arrivals Jeju welcomed 6.5 million domestic and international visitors last year, despite the global economic crisis and A/H1N1 outbreak.
In fact, these two setbacks proved to be blessings in disguise for Jeju as companies that usually sent their incentive groups overseas held their events at home instead.
This year, Jeju is targeting 6.7 million local and foreign tourists. The domestic market, however, still dominates arrival tallies, with international travellers accounting for around nine per cent of the total.
International arrivals last year were, nevertheless, up 17 per cent from 540,516 in 2008 to 632,354. China and Hong Kong posted substantial increases of 47.7 per cent and 32.7 per cent respectively. The target for 2010 is 700,000 international visitors.
Access International direct accessibility is an issue that the Jeju tourism stakeholders need to tackle to get more international visitors.
The only direct flights to Jeju are from Japan, China, Taiwan and Hong Kong.
Most international visitors land in Seoul Incheon International Airport and then connect to Jeju through a domestic flight from Gimpo Airport, some 40 minutes by bus from Seoul Incheon.
Though there are more than 100 flights a day between Seoul’s Gimpo Airport and Jeju, it can still be a challenge at times to get seats due to high load factors.
Jeju Convention & Visitors Bureau head of marketing Chundo Yang said: “Accessibility has actually improved with the entry of low-cost carriers (LCCs), but more seat capacity is needed to capture more tourists, especially MICE groups.”
At present, LCCs Air Busan, Eastar Jet, Jeju Air and Jin Air all ply the Seoul-Jeju route several times a day.
MICE Jeju aims to become an international MICE destination suitable for incentive groups and resort-style conventions.
Jeju MICE industry project director Hong Sung Hwa said: “The central government chose Jeju as it considers the island ready (for this role) in terms of tourism infrastructure.”
As it is, the International Convention Center Jeju can seat up to 4,500 people theatre-style in its biggest hall.
The MICE software and manpower, however, need improvement. Hong said: “We do not have enough professional conference organisers. We also need to develop products such as theme party and teambuilding options for national and international incentives.”
These two challenges are presently being addressed. Jeju MICE, formed to run the project, has opened a MICE academy to train personnel. Jeju Tourism Association, for its part, is developing 81 MICE products.
The first phase of the project, with an investment of 25 billion won, aims to turn Jeju into a MICE destination by next year.
The second phase, over the course of three years, entails bringing up the island’s MICE profile and capabilities to levels similar to those achieved by Singapore and Hong Kong.
Festivals Jeju is known as the Island of Festivals, with traditional and contemporary events taking place throughout the year.
Of note are the Yerae Green Village Beach Festival in July and August, the Summer Night Music Festival and the International Band Festival from July 20 to August 9, the Jeju Eulalia Festival in October, the Jeju Tangerin Festival in December and the Seongsan Sunrise Festival from New Year’s Eve. (Sources: Mimi Hudoyo, TTGAsia)
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