Now that the Koreans’ excitement over Pyeongchang’s successful Winter Olympics bid has calmed, the country’s largest business lobby has taken a hard look at Korea’s tourism infrastructure.
And its assessment is not all that rosy.
Korea’s tourism industry is not as developed as it should be and a lot of it has to do with various government measures that stand in the way of the industry, the Federation of Korean Industries (FKI), which represents the interests of more than 600 corporations across the country, said in a report yesterday.
“According to the World Economic Forum, Korea ranks 32nd in terms of the competitiveness of its tourism industry among 139 countries polled,” FKI said in a statement.
“It is far below where the country stands in terms of gross domestic product (GDP) and national competitiveness, which are 13th and 22nd each.
“And two of the biggest reasons for that,” it continued, “are regulations on the tourism business and lack of policy support that hinder the expansion of tourism infrastructure like accommodation and leisure facilities.”
The FKI argued that the reason the country cannot offer accommodations like Interlaken Hotel, overlooking part of the Alps in Switzerland, and Paradores hotels built in castles, palaces, convents, monasteries and other historic buildings in Spain is because of regulations that ban companies from building tourism facilities in mountainous areas with more than 21 degree-slopes. It also prohibits building facilities within a 100-meter radius of cultural properties.
The organization added that many existing hotels can’t fully utilize their real estate because of the regulation on land supposedly saved for city development.
The FKI warned that while the number of foreign visitors will soon break the 10 million mark, hotel rooms in popular metropolitan cities are already in shortage, with their occupancy rate reaching 91.2 percent.
The group said that Korea succeeded in bringing the Formula One Grand Prix race to the country last year and attracted more than 160,000 visitors, but due to lack of accommodations, the event was heavily criticized in the media.
“In metropolitan areas, instead of building new hotels, expanding the existing ones would be easier,” the FKI said. “And allowing hotels to utilize the land originally saved for city development projects, which is idle, would help a great deal.”