Conference & Meetings World Supplements Seoul Supplement - Page 18

Seoul Interview with Kim Byung-tae, president and CEO of the Seoul Tourism Organization Tell us a little about your background. My introduction to tourism actually began in the 80s when I saw there was a lack of maps for foreign visitors. Seeing the need, I designed the first trilingual map in English, Chinese, and Korean, which became a best-seller, especially in time for the 1988 Seoul Summer Olympics. Since then, I’ve had decades of experience in the private sector including serving as CEO of BT&I, a major travel management company. My love of culture led me to lead the classical music academy Pung Wol Dang and advise for the Kim Chong Yung Museum. In June I joined the Seoul Tourism Organization (STO) as its 4th President and CEO, and the first from a private sector background. I look upon the role as a wonderful opportunity to combine all my past experiences in helping to drive forward Seoul’s tourism profile, from leisure travel to business events and beyond. 18 CONFERENCE & MEETINGS WORLD What does the Seoul Tourism Organization offer for organisers planning a meeting in the city? STO offers a comprehensive support programme to local and international event organisers at various levels. We provide a full bidding support clinic, including professional training, to bring meetings to Seoul. During events, we provide customised city tours, airport baggage carousel welcome messages, welcome kits for delegates and other services to help create a memorable and special experience for delegates. Many events are also eligible for assistance from our Seoul MICE Supporters- operational staff trained by STO to provide logistical help at local events. I am also proud of the continually expanding Seoul MICE Alliance (SMA), a membership organisation of 195 of Seoul’s top accommodation, convention centres, entertainment venues, travel agencies and other industries that work with STO to better assist organisers. The alliance meets throughout the year to continually improve the services and standards of the industry. What are some of the goals you would like to achieve as leader of STO? In the coming years, I would like to expand our marketing efforts and presence in longhaul markets, particularly Europe, Australia, and the Americas. We have already begun efforts to extend our network and raise awareness of Seoul in those regions. Here in Seoul, I would like to increase the comfort of visitors such as by adding more foreign language signage around the city, improving informative mobile applications, creating intuitive guidebooks, and organising a wide variety of festivals throughout the year. On that last part, ideally I envision Seoul having a major festival or event occurring every weekend so that our visitors will have plenty to see and do throughout the year. Autumn always brings with it beautiful foliage, wonderful for hiking opportunities.