Jeju projects forge ahead despite tourism slump

IR development plans on the southern island of Jeju are continuing apace, though the outlook for international tourism to South Korea remains bleak in the short term due to a tour travel ban by China and escalating tensions with its northern neighbor.

Tourism numbers in the seven months through to end July fell almost 21 percent, with a 46.5 percent drop in arrivals from China, according to figures from the Korea Tourism Organization.

In the month of July alone, overall arrivals were down 40.8 percent.

The number of Chinese tourists who visited Jeju from June 30 to July 6 was tallied at 9,386, about one-eighth of the 77,824 recorded in the same period last year.

China in March banned all tour group travel to South Korea following Seoul’s decision to deploy a U.S. anti-missile system, while more recently the accelerated pace of nuclear tests and bellicose rhetoric from the north has had a further impact.

Honeymoon spot Jeju itself is a popular tourism destination for locals, especially honeymooners, though they are not allowed to enter into the island’s casinos.

Still, China-backed projects are continuing apace. Hong Kong-listed Landing International Development recently announced an accord with Lionsgate Entertainment to develop a theme park at its Jeju Shinhwa World IR, which had its initial opening in April. It has also inked an accord with the Four Seasons for a hotel at the complex.

The company said it will require more funding to complete the resort, with the current estimate being for a further $1 billion.

TGG inks accord with Jeju’s Majestar casino

TGG Takara Gaming Group, a provider of gaming platform technology, has secured Korea Testing Certification approval, and has signed a gaming machine operation agreement with Majestar Casino, the biggest Korean casino in Jeju Island. Co-founder and CEO of TGG Raymond Chan said, “Korea is a fundamental marketplace for Asia gaming. He said the company’s product would be deployed from the second half of 2017. 

Kangwon stops card cash services

Kangwon Land, the only casino in South Korea that allows local gamblers, says it is discontinuing credit card cash services at the property starting September 1, 2017. The operator said the move is part of a bold policy shift to create a healthy gaming environment for casinos. While short-term lending services, such as credit cards and cash loan services will be discontinued, deposit and withdrawal services within the scope of customers’ deposits will remain unchanged, said the operator. There are currently 22 cash depositors in and out of the Kangwon Land Casino.

 

The theme park, named Lionsgate Movie World, will be Lionsgate’s first branded outdoor theme park, which will be built exclusively around world famous movies.

The theme park will span 122,000 sqm, and will center around seven movie zones with multiple Lionsgate’s film properties, including Hunger Games, The Twilight Saga and Now You See Me.

Visitors will be able to experience movie scenes through state-of-the-art rides, attractions and 4D Intellectual Property (IP) reproduced streets and towns. Each zone will also feature themed restaurants, cafes, souvenir shops and entertainment performances.

The theme park is expected to commence construction in 2018 and is scheduled to open in 2019. The Jeju Shinhwa resort opened its initial phase in April.

“With the addition of Lionsgate Movie World as the centerpiece of Jeju Shinhwa World, the group believes that Jeju Shinhwa World will offer comprehensive premium guest experiences in world class resort facilities including Four Seasons Resort, Marriott Resort and Spa, Somerset serviced resort condominium and upscale villas,” Landing chairman and executive director Yang Zhihui wrote in a release.

The Four Seasons Resort, which is scheduled to be opened in 2019, will include approximately 240 guest rooms, suites and exclusive villas, with a variety of tailor-made restaurants and bars. It will also feature a spa, designed in the style of a traditional Korean tea house.

Meanwhile, Lotte Tour Development Co has selected Grand Hyatt as the hotel brand for its Jeju Dream Tower integrated resort. The hotel services agreement was signed on August 28 for Hyatt to operate 1,600 rooms, 11 restaurants and bars, and all other hotel amenities. It will be the world’s second-largest Hyatt hotel in terms of room capacity.

The company said that it chose Grand Hyatt due to its resonance with the Chinese market which, it says, is a major target market for Jeju Dream Tower.

Ki-byung Kim, chairman of Lotte Tour Development said: “With the solid partnership that has been formed between the Greenland Group, China’s largest property developer and co-developer of this project, China State Construction Engineering Corporation (CSCEC), world’s largest construction company and main contractor who provided an unconditional complete guarantee, and Grand Hyatt as hotel operator, Jeju Dream Tower Integrated Resort is expected to become a major tourist destination on Jeju Island. It will also create 3,000 jobs including hoteliers and casino dealers, and contribute tens of billions of Korean won to Jeju Tourism Promotion Fund every year.”

The company recently raised just over $34 million through a third-party placement of convertible bonds to help finance the development.

The integrated resort is 169 meters tall with 38 stories, covering a total floor area of 303,737 sqm. Each room in Grand Hyatt Jeju will be over 65 sqm.