Korean hotel boom – non-Gangnam style

A major hotel-building boom is underway in the South Korean capital of Seoul, as an increasing number of Chinese and Japanese tourists are finding no room at the inns.

The number of foreign tourists visiting Korea this year surpassed 10 million, and yet Seoul has only 26,000 hotel rooms, fewer than many other cities around the world, including Bangkok with 94,000, the Korean Herald reported.

Many Chinese tourists had to stay in hotels far away from the city centre, including in the surrounding Gyeonggi Province, during peak seasons.

Eager to grab a slice of the growing demand, major hotel chains are rushing to build new business hotels, especially around Seoul’s Myeong-dong, Cheonggye Stream and Seoul Station, says the Herald.

Their choice is business or boutique hotels with rooms under 200,000 won, or US$183, per night. Like Koreans traveling to Hong Kong or Tokyo, many Japanese and Chinese tourists, who account for 60% of all foreign tourists in Seoul, prefer no-frills, the Herald says.

Seoul’s central Jung-gu district now has 30 business hotels with about 7,600 guest rooms, but the Jung-gu municipality has so far approved plans to build another 20 hotels, adding another 3,000 guest rooms, the Herald reported.

Major conglomerates are focusing on business hotels. Parnas Hotel – 70% owned by GS Engineering and Construction, and the rest by the Korea International Trade Association – opened its first business hotel, Nine Tree Myeong-dong in the central shopping district, in December. It plans to build more, a Parnas spokesperson told the Herald.

Companies Lotte and Shilla between them plan seven new hotels in downtown Seoul, the Herald reported, while Westin Chosun Hotel, Ajou Group, Hanjin Group, SK Networks and Aekyung Group are also planning to build.

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