25 Oct Seoul MICE Human Resource Development Members Attend the Seoul International Fair & Sustainable Tourism Forum
Members of the ‘Seoul MICE Human Resource Development (Seoul MICE HRD),’ program, the Seoul Metropolitan Government’s job training program for youths, attended the Seoul International Fair & Sustainable Tourism Forum 2016 (SIFT) held at the Grand Hilton Seoul from September 20 to 21. The forum was co-hosted by the Seoul Metropolitan Government, the Seoul Tourism Organization (STO) and the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) to address fair and sustainable tourism polices and action, focusing on fair trade among tourists, local residents, and tourism agencies- a pressing matter as Korea is expecting to welcome 20 million international visitors per year (click to see the previous article on the forum).
The young talents participating in the Seoul MICE HRD attended session 1 of the Forum on September 20. Session 1 was hosted by Xu Jing, the Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific at the World Tourism Organization. Some of the renowned experts in the industry including Chan Beng Seng, Coordinator for the Global Alternative Tourism Network (GATN) from Hong Kong, Christina Kamp, editor of the newsletter Tourism Watch from Germany, Yoshioka Tatsuya is Co-Founder and Director of Peace Boat from Japan, and professor Kim Cheol-won from Kyung Hee University, participated in the session as keynote speakers.
Under the topic of ‘Mega-cities and Sustainable Tourism,’ the session discussed the presence of new forms of tourism including community-based tourism, responsible tourism, and ecotourism tourism. The keynote speakers stressed the need for new paradigms for tourism and the advancement of mega-city tourism. Moreover, rising issues on mega-city tourism such as gentrification* and touristification* were also addressed.
The Seoul MICE HRD program participants were not hesitant to raise questions during the Q&A session that followed. Two students, Lee Do-eun and Park Sang-su, asked about ultimate solutions for gentrification, and whether there were any dangers that fair tourism policies, meant to act as solutions, could become a form of mass tourism that only further exacerbated the problem.
The experts answered saying that gentrification could be eased if the government was engaged and continued to provide diversified solutions. They also said that continuous education on fair tourism would prevent fair tourism from turning to a mass “public tourism.”
For program members like Lee Do-eun, a student who had eagerly sought to learn more about fair tourism but found it difficult due to the lack of viewpoints and interpretation on fair tourism, she shared that the experience helped answer many questions and offered her a much better understanding on the topic.
“I gained a new perspective today on tourism that my school didn’t teach me,” student Park Sang-su added. “I think I can come up with some new fair tourism items which I’m going to further investigate once I work in the MICE industry,” he added.
* Gentrification: A phenomenon where the revival of deteriorated urban neighborhoods results in influx of wealthier people, increased property values and the displacing of the current communities
* Touristification: This refers to a situation where the deluge of tourists turns an ordinary area into a tourist area which changes and eventually threatens their residential environment.