The Past and Future of Busan as an International Convention City
Having attracted and hosted countless international conventions, Busan has grown into one of the world’s top international convention cities. Ranked 4th in Asia and 12th in the world, according to the Union of International Associations’ rankings of international convention cities, Busan continues to raise its status as a major MICE (meeting, incentives, convention, and exhibitions) city. The unique appeal of Busan’s natural environment, top-class convention infrastructure, and tourism industry is colorfully blended into the city’s MICE marketing, with the outcome being positive and consistent. Busan is an ideal setting for international conventions. Let’s explore its milestones and future possibilities.
Beginnings as an International Convention City
With the 2001 opening of the Busan Exhibition and Convention Center (BEXCO), featuring over 46,500 ㎡ of exhibition space and 53 meeting rooms, Busan made a successful foray into the international convention industry. The success of APEC South Korea 2005 held in Busan catapulted the city to the status of a major international convention city in Asia. In the same year, the Busan Convention Bureau was established to ramp up the city’s MICE efforts. Other notable large-scale international conventions held in Busan that brought it to global attention as an ideal MICE city include the 2009 OECD World Forum and the 2012 Lions Clubs International Convention.
Ever-Increasing Value as a MICE City
In November 2019, Busan hosted the ASEAN-Republic of Korea Commemorative Summit for the second time in a row since 2014. Some 10,000 attendees, including heads of state, governmental ministers, and corporate representatives from countries in the ASEAN region, attended the event, where pledges for exchanges were made in various areas. Busan’s status as a hub for ASEAN exchanges was cemented when it also hosted the 1st Mekong-Republic of Korea Summit, held back-to-back with the 2019 ASEAN-ROK Commemorative Summit. In December of the same year, the 2019 International Diabetes Federation Congress was also successfully hosted in Busan, where a rare scene involving some 3,000 event visitors running through the city was created in a nocturnal marathon held to promote a sense of solidarity.
Rising to the Challenges of the New Normal
Beginning in early 2020, Busan has consistently adhered to Korea’s COVID-19 strategy and is hosting safe events during the pandemic. Major international events scheduled for this year include landmark events such as the Busan One Asia Festival in October, and the 30th Anniversary World Congress on Biosensors in November. In the face of the coronavirus pandemic, a wide range of non-contact events made possible thanks to meeting technologies are taking place, and Busan’s MICE industries are cooperating to overcome the crisis. Busan’s safety in the midst of the pandemic is attested by its membership in the International Safe Community Network, a noteworthy feat as Busan was the first metropolitan-scale city in the world to be granted this level of recognition.
Systematic Preparations for the World’s Most Important Conventions
The future of Busan as a city of international conventions is bright. Having worked hard to earn the opportunity to host such large-scale international events as the 2021 World Team Table Tennis Championships, the 2022 International Microscopy Congress, and the 2026 International Federation of Automatic Control World Congress, Busan is now preparing for these events as its confirmed host city. This achievement didn’t happen overnight; it required tremendous effort from the city to continuously improve its appeal as a host city. Thanks to its advanced MICE infrastructure, which includes an attractive selection of convention centers, hotels, unique venues, and support systems, Busan is ready to become the world’s top international convention city.
Busan’s potential for growth as an international convention city is infinite. As its milestones indicate, the city checks all the right boxes: the passion, ability, and infrastructure needed to provide the best possible international convention experience. Busan will continuously endeavor to attract and successfully host international conferences in these changing times, to become a proud and world-renowned international convention city.