Seoul Ranked Highest in Number of Int'l Conferences

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Seoul Ranked Highest in Number of Int'l Conferences

By Dian Barber | Oct 10, 2018

South Korea ranked No. 1 in the world in the number of international conferences hosted for both 2016 and 2017, according to the Union of International Associations.

And the capital city, Seoul (part of the Seoul Capital Area that includes the surrounding Incheon metropolis and Gyeonggi province), is growing nonstop to prepare for continued increases in visitor numbers. Earlier this year, analysts from Lodging Econometrics named Seoul No. 2 as far as Asia Pacific cities (excluding those in China) with the most hotel construction projects in the pipeline. The capital city boasts 80 projects in the works, totaling more than 15,000 guest rooms.

Seoul Dragon City

Seoul Dragon City, South Korea’s first “lifestyle hotel-plex,” opened in October 2017. The four AccorHotel brands in this grouping—Novotel Ambassador Seoul Yongsan, Novotel Suites Ambassador Seoul Yongsan, ibis Styles Ambassador Seoul Yongsan and Grand Mercure Ambassador Seoul Yongsan—combine for 1,700 guest rooms.

Sky Kingdom - Seoul Dragon City

Holiday Inn Express

The Holiday Inn Express brand has also been growing in South Korea, with several new properties coming online over the past year. South of Seoul, the 249-room Holiday Inn Express Suwon Ingye opened in late 2017 with a 20-capacity boardroom. The 294-room Holiday Inn Express Seoul Hongdae opened last month as the brand’s second property in the city, located near the popular Gangnam business district.

In August, the 335-room Hotel Gracery debuted in Seoul’s bustling Myeongdong neighborhood, the hotel brand’s first property located outside of Japan.

In July, Novotel Ambassador opened its 500th property, the Novotel Ambassador Seoul Dongdaemun Hotels & Residences. The 331-room hotel is located near Heunginjimun, one of the Eight Gates of Seoul dating to the 14th century. The Novotel’s largest meeting space can accommodate up to 280 guests.

Autograph Collection: RYSE

The second Autograph Collection hotel in Seoul, the creative-artsy RYSE, opened in the Hongdae area this June with 272 guest rooms including 14 suites and a 300-capacity gallery event space. Some of these suites were designed by local artists, with the goal of embracing the neighborhood’s strong youth culture.

RYSE - Hongdae 

“Our team is focused on showcasing the energetic culture of Hongdae to global travelers and fostering a creative community for people to gather and connect,” says General Manager Jaisun Ihm. “By partnering with some of the world’s most creative visionaries, we are offering an exactly-like-nothing-else hotel and cultural experience that could only happen in Seoul.”

Andaz Gangnam

This summer, Hyatt announced plans to develop the 241-room Andaz Gangnam—the first Andaz property in South Korea. Expected to open next year in the city’s affluent Apgujeong neighborhood, the boutique property will include almost 7,000 square feet of meeting space.

“We are excited to showcase how the new Andaz hotel will integrate and complement Gangnam’s unique character given Seoul is a very attractive destination as it continues to develop into one of the most competitive cities for global leisure and business travel,” says David Udell, group president, Asia-Pacific, Hyatt Hotels Corp.

Last September, Le Méridien Hotels & Resorts opened its first Korean property. The 336-room hotel with a 500-capacity ballroom is positioned along one of the city’s major thoroughfares—and just down the road from the COEX Convention and Exhibition Center.

COEX Convention & Exhibition Center

COEX, Korea’s largest convention and exhibition center with 4.6 million square feet of meeting space, four halls and 55 meeting rooms, is part of the Gangnam District. The COEX MICE Cluster includes the COEX Starfield Mall and aquarium, SMTown@COEX Artium, Seoul Arts Center, the 8th-century Buddhist temple Bongeunsa, luxury hotels, restaurants and a city airport terminal.

COEX convention and exhibition

An expansion project by Korea International Trade Association (KITA), the owners of COEX, has been approved to develop the land between COEX and Jamsil Sports Complex into a continuous COEX Center Jamsil. Plans include hotels, shopping, entertainment and a new convention center to be completed by 2030.

Only one hour from Seoul is the Songdo Convensia, Asia’s largest column-free structure, located in a district of Incheon, an integrated high-tech, sustainable “Tomorrow City.” The Songdo Convensia, located in the Songdo international business district (Songdo IBD), is also expanding due to increased demand from the MICE market. A phase two expansion, completed in July, doubles its current size and includes a 2,000-person capacity grand ballroom, 12 new conference rooms and two new exhibition halls.

Songdo IBD is one of three that is overseen by the Incheon Free Economic Zone and sits on 1,500 acres of Incheon waterfront, reclaimed from the Yellow Sea. It is the background used by K-pop star Psy for his videos “Gangnam Style” and “Right Now” and also includes 106 LEED-certified buildings, the first South Korea LEED-certified hotel (Sheraton Incheon), Asia’s first LEED-certified convention center (Songdo Convensia) and the LEED-certified Jack Nicklaus Golf Club Korea.

Less than three hours by train from Seoul in the southeastern end of the Korean peninsula is South Korea’s second-largest city, Busan.

Home to the world’s sixth-largest port, Busan is uniquely positioned as not only a gateway to the Eurasian continent, but also a prime conduit for maritime trade with both the North and South American continents.

Busan, ranked eighth in the world for 2017 international conferences by the UIA, boasts a robust meetings infrastructure. The Busan Exhibition and Convention Center (BEXCO) is comprised of nearly 500,000 square feet of meeting and exhibition space divisible into 16 independent halls, 56 meeting rooms and a 4,000-seat auditorium.

Additional venue spaces in Busan are the Nurimaru APEC House, which hosted world dignitaries for the 2005 APEC Leaders’ Meeting, and the Busan Cinema Center, home to the prestigious Busan International Film Festival.

The center, which holds the Guinness World Record for the largest cantilever roof, can accommodate up to 6,800 attendees in both indoor and outdoor spaces. Nighttime events  can hold a special thrill: The exterior of the building contains 42,600 LED lights that can be synchronized for impressive displays.

Hilton Busan

The Hilton Busan, a 310-room luxury oceanfront “urban resort” that opened in 2017, is minutes away from the city center, and one of Busan’s famous beaches—Haeundae Beach. First encountering a comfy, antique chair-throne, guests are led through an artistically ribbed hallway to an elevator to the top floor with views of the ocean.

Conference center spaces include two divisible pillarless ballrooms totaling nearly 26,000 square feet, seven meeting rooms and two outdoor event spaces.



Dian Barber - Writer
Dian Barber

Dian Barber is a data wrangler and has been contributing photography, research and writing to MPI’s publications since 2005.