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Coex aims to lead MICE industry

The CEO of Coex Mall in southern Seoul has announced plans to make Coex and the adjacent Korea World Trade Center a hub for meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions, otherwise known as the MICE industry.

This will show the evolution of shopping malls from a collection of shops to an industry hub that goes beyond retail, said Byun Bo-kyung, president and CEO of Coex.

“Korea needs to develop a MICE cluster. While the government has chosen MICE as (one of) the new growth engines, the truth is that there has been little solid result. We hope to realize this,” he said at a recent press conference regarding plans for the C-Festival, an 11-day international culture, arts and technology festival that ends Sunday.

He went on to say that the C-Festival will also be held in the coming years to make Coex and the KWTC the center of Korea’s MICE industry. People will be able to participate in exhibition conferences and meetings during the festival, as well as tourism. 

Byun Bo-kyung, president and CEO of Coex
Byun Bo-kyung, president and CEO of Coex

Two top-tier hotels ― the Grand InterContinental Parnas Seoul and Coex InterContinental Seoul ― as well as the annexed Korea City Air Terminal, restaurants, nearby Bongeunsa Temple and more will also help boost the MICE industry, market watchers said.

The C-Festival was organized and hosted as a collaborative project among the 13 companies located in the KWTC, and was scheduled to coincide with holidays in China, Japan and Russia.

According to Byun, the C-Festival is the largest of its kind arranged entirely by the private sector.

“C-Festival is possible only because it is Coex. I believe in the company’s potential. Since taking office two years ago, I wanted to make something new in Korea. Although I had doubts, it has been realized.”

While Coex has always been more than a shopping mall, in combination with other attractions, it has played a significant role in making it the landmark it is today. Coex is now a popular meeting spot for Seoul residents and a tourist attraction thanks to its large shopping facility, coupled with attractions such as a cinema, aquarium and the SM Coex Artium ― a facility operated by the hallyu giant SM Entertainment.

Aided by Byun’s plans and the growing awareness of the Gangnam “brand,” Coex was designated as a special tourism zone last year.

Coex and the KWTC draw more than 45 million visitors each year. As of 2013, 1.31 million foreigners visited the area, and its operators hope to raise the figure to 3 million in 2017.

By Suk Gee-hyun (monicasuk@heraldcorp.com)
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