The South Korean government on Sunday said it would approve two more foreigners-only casino resorts and the building of around 5,000 new hotel rooms this year, hoping to boost tourism investment by around KRW3.5 trillion (US$3.25 billion).
Deputy finance minister Jeong Eun-bo made the announcement at a press briefing.
“Limits imposed on the building of new resorts with casinos will be lifted so they can be built even inside free economic zones by both local and foreign investors,” added Park Min-gwon, deputy minister for the Tourism Ministry.
The Korean government aims to choose the operators of the two new casino resorts by the second half of this year. Each property will have to include a minimum investment of KRW1 trillion.
In a report last autumn, Standard Chartered Equity Research said it expected South Korea to issue up to three more licences for foreigners-only gaming resorts near Incheon International Airport, 50 kilometres (31 miles) southwest of the capital Seoul, in addition to two already announced.
Those already approved are one by a consortium involving a local unit of U.S.-based Caesars Entertainment Corp and Hong Kong-listed Lippo Ltd, and one that is a joint venture of local casino operator Paradise Co Ltd and Japan’s Sega Sammy Holdings Inc.
On December 22 it was reported that Macau casino operator SJM Holdings Ltd had been invited to be joint manager of the latter scheme. SJM Holdings hasn’t commented on the report.
A company led by Hong Kong billionaire Cheng Yu Tung, a long time associate of Stanley Ho Hung Sun and investor in SJM Holdings’ parent company Sociedade de Turismo e Diversões de Macau SA, has also been linked with a bid for an Incheon casino scheme.
A consortium involving Genting Singapore Plc, developer of the Resorts World Sentosa casino in Singapore, and Landing International Development Ltd, a mainland China property developer, is also seeking to break ground this year on a US$2.2 billion integrated resort project on the holiday island of Jeju – a destination popular with Chinese tourists.
The number of Chinese tourists to South Korea grew 46 percent in 2014, to 6.33 million, reported the Yonhap News Agency on January 13, quoting the South Korean Embassy in Beijing.
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Aggregate number of visitor arrivals to Macau in October