Making waves: why Incheon is attracting international meetings
Known as the gateway to South Korea, the reputation of Incheon is soaring as a destination for international meetings – thanks mainly to its futuristic vibes and ease of access.
Home to the massive modern Incheon International Airport and Songdo International Business District, a high-tech smart city, the country’s second largest port city is certainly making waves.
Part of the Seoul Capital Area, Incheon is a city that seamlessly blends old with new. With eight UN offices making their base there alongside a burgeoning biotech cluster, it’s a popular choice for international conferences like the Meeting of the Communities of Ocean Action. Held at the Grand Hyatt Incheon, in the airport complex, in May, the congress aimed to prepare for the 2020 United Nations Ocean Conference in Lisbon.
With two huge towers connected via a sky bridge, this is the largest Hyatt hotel outside North America: it boasts 1,024 guestrooms and the grand ballroom can accommodate 1,250 delegates.
In July, the 13th International Symposium on Antarctic Earth Sciences took place at the Songdo ConvensiA; a gala dinner was held at the Sheraton Grand Incheon Hotel, close to the convention centre, and special rates were secured at a number of hotels including Oakwood Premier Incheon, the 275-room Orakai Songdo Park Hotel – which features outdoor and indoor pools – and Hotel Skypark Incheon Songdo, which has 241 rooms.
And in May, the International Civil Aviation Organization held their 2019 Air Transport Symposium and Conference on International Air Transport Cooperation at Paradise City Hotel, a ten-minute walk from the airport terminal, which also houses a casino, shopping, spa and entertainment. The main congress sessions were held in the Grand Ballrooms, with breakouts in the Sapphire Rooms and coffee breaks in the foyer.
A welcome dinner was held in the same venue and another banquet held at the nearby Grand Hyatt Incheon; options for historic and cultural tours included Gyeongbokgung Palace, built in 1395, and a trip to Insa-dong, a lively neighbourhood in Seoul packed with traditional tea houses and art galleries.
Incheon International Airport, a 10.5 hour direct flight from UK, is some 23km outside the capital city, Seoul. Via Incheon Bridge, it’s a 20-minute drive to the convention centre at Songdo International City.
Close to the airport, there are nine five-star hotels, all with considerable meetings facilities of their own, and four four-star hotels. As well as the Paradise Hotel and Resort, Paradise City is home to the boutique Art Paradiso; the nearby five-star Nest Hotel Incheon blends brutalist architecture with urban hipster vibes. The traditional style of the both the meeting rooms and bedrooms at Gyeongwonjae Ambassador Incheon, managed by Accor in Songdo, is worth checking out, while the Sheraton Grand Incheon Hotel in Songdo has 10 event rooms, the largest of which holds 500 delegates.
Songdo ConvensiA, managed by Incheon Tourism Organization, is a state-of-the-art convention centre with an exterior inspired by the Taeback Mountains in Korea. Built in 2008, it includes 17,021 sqm of exhibition space and two huge ballrooms which can be sub-divided, as well as other meeting rooms. The 305-room Sheraton Grand Incheon Hotel and the Oakwood Premier Incheon, which includes the Jack Nicklaus Golf Club, share the site.
Incheon has long been a transportation hub and, since 2003 when the city was designated the country’s first free economic zone, it’s seen investment from around the world: Songdo is now the manufacturing base of dozens of global biotech companies, including Samsung BioLogics and Celltrion.
Qualifying events can benefit from bid support and site visits, as well as help with welcome receptions, shuttles, and venue support from both the local convention bureau and at a national level through Korea MICE.
Worth a visit
Incheon’s Chinatown, the oldest and biggest Chinatown outside China, is well worth a visit: expect great food and interesting museums. For a lively and authentic experience, head to Sinpo International Market where the fried chicken is especially popular, or for something more sedate, Jeondeungsa Temple is a Buddhist temple built over 1,000 years ago that’s full of beautiful carvings.
Who to contact:
Contact in Korea:
Rachel Seo, Manager, Incheon Tourism Organization
Contact in Europe:
+44 1628 526184
Published Date: 27/12/2019