Friday, October 25, 2013

Paradise City v. Sin City

Last Tuesday, Paradise Group unveiled its "Paradise City" project on Yeongjongdo, a walking distance from Incheon International Airport. Construction starts next year and the first section shall be delivered by 2017. Ultimately, 160,000 visitors shall come daily, including a majority of Chinese tourists and business travelers*.

The KRW 1.9 Tn resort will include hotels, restaurants, convention spaces, and of course Paradise's speciality: foreigner-only casinos. The group already operates one nearby at the Hyatt Regency Incheon, and shouldn't remain the only big player for long in what seems to be the future Korean Las Vegas.


Paradise City
If you remember, a few years ago, IFEZ considered casinos as a potential 'vertical' to boost then ailing Songdo**. If the International Business District has since signed investors more consistent with its initial positioning, the potential remains huge for a gateway that welcomes tens of millions of visitors every year, including a growing number of Chinese citizens, some of whom already own a flat in Songdo. Yeongdongpo already boasts significant tourist infrastructures, and recent visa exemptions for short term stays considerably boosted the market of passengers in transit.


Incheon dreams of becoming the Northeast Asia rival to Macau, and the local casino king Stanley Ho doesn't seem to mind. He even wants to join the party, along with Universal Entertainment (Japan) and Vegas giant Ceasars Entertainment (USA, in a JV with Indonesia's Lippo Group***). But since foreign companies are not allowed to run casinos in Korea, they've been denied agreements so far, giving a head start to the national champion. This might change, and the same players are probably waiting for further regulation evolutions, in particular a "cruise bill" that could allow foreigner-only floating casinos (a life saver for OH Se-hoon's Floating Island?).


The next day, Gangwon-do announced a plan to develop Korea's first nude beach.
Try to top(less) that, KIM Jong-un! In his arms race for olympic gold and tourist silver (brand new water park, Masikryong Ski Resort), the young leader might be tempted to develop new unclad vehicles.


Seoul Village 2013
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*"Paradise Co. to build casino complex near Incheon airport" (Yonhap News 20131022)
** "DMC at full throttle - Songdo from Sim City to Sin City?" (2011/04)
*** Midan City: midancity.com

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