South Korea project pipeline
With 30 major hotel projects slated to open before 2019, the South Korean hotel industry is undergoing a surge in interest
With 30 major hotel projects slated to open before 2019, the South Korean hotel industry is undergoing a surge in interest.
Our numbers show that South Korea can expect 17 projects to open in 2017, 4 projects to open in 2018, and 9 more projects to debut in 2019. The total number of rooms associated with these projects will be 9,904, with the majority being located in Seoul and a few more in Busan.
With this renewed interest in the South Korean region, it’s important for key stakeholders in the global hospitality industry to become better versed in South Korea, particularly with its hotel industry. Korea ranks as a popular tourist destination for throngs of visitors from China and Japan, which when put together accounted for nearly 60 percent of the country’s visitors in 2015. The geographic proximity for those two countries—the Korean peninsula is located in the sea between China and Japan—and the attractive tourism options in the region have made it a hotspot for short getaways, particularly the capital city of Seoul, where the vast majority of new hotel projects are slated to debut.
Global hospitality industry insiders have also cited “Hallyu” or Korean wave as a major driving force of the country’s tourism industry. This trend started from popular media, including K-Pop artists and TV dramas, but it has gradually spread into cosmetics, food, electronics and other industries. In fact, according to KOFICE, or the Korea Foundation for International Culture Exchange, the Korean wave effect was estimated to have induced approximately $14 billion of spending in 2015.
Back in 2005, South Korea recorded 6 million international visitors, the vast majority of which were Japanese, who came in numbers of 2.4 million, or 40 percent. China was next at 11 percent, with United States tourists ranking third at 9 percent. The number of tourists visiting the country has steadily climbed since then, reaching a peak of more than 14 million visitors in 2014.
The major change to the demographics of these visitors was the massive spike coming from China. In 2015, more than 40 percent of international visitors to South Korea were Chinese.
Among tourism destinations in Asia, Korea has strongly and consistently ranked in the top 5 of destinations for Chinese travelers over the last 3 years. The western side of the Korean Peninsula is bound by Korea Bay to its north and the waters of the Yellow Sea to its south. Meanwhile, the eastern side of the Korean Peninsula is flanked by the East Sea. There are approximately 200 kilometers of open water that are between the Korean Peninsula and eastern China. Two Japanese islands, Honshu and Kyushu, are about 206 kilometers to the southeast.
The total area of the country, including all of the nearby islands, spans about 99,720 square kilometers.
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