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Seoul welcomes its largest incentive group yet from China

Seoul successfully hosted its largest single incentive group as part of a week-long incentive trip. From May 4 through May 13, South Korea’s capital welcomed some 8,000 participants who came to Seoul as part of a major incentive trip from Joy Main Science & Technology, the healthcare unit of the China-based Zhongmai Group.

The Joy Main incentive tour in Seoul was attained through a collective effort between the Korea Tourism Organization and Seoul mayor Park Won Soon in Beijing in August of last year when they attended the 2015 Beijing Seoul Road Show. Because of the sheer size of the group, the incentive trip was split into two large groups of 4,000 individuals each. The first group arrived on May 4 and returned on May 9 while the second group arrived on May 9 and departed on May 13. During their trip, both groups enjoyed their time sightseeing at popular attractions such as Gyeongbokgung Palace, Namsangol Hanok Village, and the traditional Insadong street as well as shopping at the popular commercial area of Myeongdong and the many duty free shops around the city.

To welcome the groups, the Seoul metropolitan government, the Seoul Tourism Organization, the Korea Tourism Organization, the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, and other organizations arranged for two special dinners and concerts for both groups, respectively on May 6 and May 10, by the Han River. Both evening’s menu was the Korean stuffed chicken soup dish of samgyetang while the evening performers included popular Korean singers, many who had sang for the soundtrack of the mega-hit Korean television drama Descendants of the Sun which has recently enjoyed immense popularity in China. The samgyetang menu was specially chosen not only for its growing popularity with the Chinese market but also because of recent trade agreements between the Chinese and South Korean governments the dish is anticipated to be available for import in China beginning later this year.

Prior to the dinner and performance, food trucks, a currency exchange truck, and several booths with cultural activities and crafts and performances were set up at the Banpo Hangang River for the groups to enjoy. On both nights, the preparation for each evening required precise planning and execution in setting up 400 tables, temporary facilities- such as bathrooms-, kitchen trucks, and other temporary facilities. In total, some 8,000 bowls of samgyetang and kimchi, 16,000 cans of beer, and 36,000 bottles of the traditional Korean liquor Baekseju were estimated to be served over both evenings. Despite some light showers during both samgyetang nights, the dinners proved a hit with Joy Main participants who eagerly dined on the river banks against the backdrop of the Banpo Bridge, which has the distinction of being recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s longest fountain bridge.

Spirits remained high as participants sipped on soup, made toasts and festively cheered their company name. For first time visitors to Seoul like Zhao Qian, the samgyetang dinner event left a positive impression on the overall trip as Qian shared, “The samgyetang was very delicious and I was so delighted to receive such a warm and memorable welcome in Seoul.” He added, “I want to return to Seoul one day soon with my family.”

In addition to the samgyetang party, Seoul city and the Seoul Tourism Organization provided a range of support for Joy Main’s incentive trip made possible by months of prior coordination and negotiations. From the early stages of negotiation, Seoul helped organize site visits for Joy Main and in arranging meetings with key local leaders for the trip. The city aided with major logistical arrangements for Joy Main’s incentive trip which ended up requiring 34 flights, 16 hotels, and 100 buses. Support services such as financial subsidies, airport greeting messages, and welcome kits were also provided by Seoul. The economic effect of Joy Main’s incentive trip was estimated to be some 4.95 billion won (approximately 4.2 million USD) in Korea.

Eui Seung Kim, Director-General of the Seoul Metropolitan Government’s Tourism Policy Bureau expounded on Joy Main’s expected effects saying, “Through this large-scale incentive visit by Joy Main to Seoul, we anticipate that Seoul’s many diverse culture and sites- including hallyu, the Han River, and Korean food- will receive significant promotional boosts in China. Seoul city will continue to work in accommodating the increasing number of incentive groups to our city.”

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