The Paradise City casino resort at Incheon in South Korea – with a gaming facility open only to foreigners – is to launch its first phase today (April 20). The property is located close to Incheon International Airport, which serves as the main air hub for the country’s capital Seoul.
The initial phase of Paradise City will consist of a casino, a hotel and a conference-cum-banquet facility, according to a previous release from Tokyo-based Japanese pachinko operator Sega Sammy Holdings Inc. The latter company is an investor in Paradise Sega Sammy Co Ltd, a joint venture firm set up in partnership with South Korea’s Paradise Co Ltd – an operator of foreigner-only casinos in that country – to develop and operate Paradise City (pictured in an artist’s rendering).
The management of Paradise Co says the Paradise City casino resort at Incheon will be a game-changer for South Korea’s tourism industry. “This will be the first integrated resort in Northeast Asia and I [think] will change the paradigm of [the] local tourism industry,” company chairman and chief executive Chun Phil-Lip – also known as Phillip Jeon – told Korea JoongAng Daily newspaper in March.
The total investment amount for the 330,000-square-metre (3.58 million-sq-foot) site stands at around KRW1.3 trillion (US$1.12 billion), according to the promoters.
The property’s casino will feature 154 game tables, 281 slot machines, and four installations of electronic games offering an aggregate of 62 seats, said Sega Sammy.
A 711-room hotel – included in the first phase – will feature suites and pool villa accommodation. The casino resort also includes entertainment facilities, restaurants and bars, health and beauty facilities and play areas for children.
A second phase – to open in the first half of 2018 – will add further entertainment and leisure offerings to the complex, and a boutique hotel, according to Sega Sammy.
Paradise Co currently operates five foreigner-only casinos in South Korea, including an existing one at Incheon. The country has 17 casinos but only one – Kangwon Land in a remote upland area – is allowed to serve South Korean nationals.
According to some investment analysts, the South Korean market for inbound tourism is currently facing headwinds due to a political row between that country and China over the siting on South Korean soil of a U.S.-supplied missile system designed to counter North Korea’s ballistic missile programme.
In a March 6 note, analyst David Bain of Aegis Capital Corp, said Macau might benefit from any displacement of mainland Chinese tourists from the South Korea market.
According to an April note from analyst Thomas Kwon of Daiwa Securities Capital Markets Korea Co Ltd, Paradise Co and Sega Sammy are to work together to draw non-Chinese customers to the venue, namely from Japan and other Asian countries such as Thailand.
“There are concerns about the Chinese market,” Paradise Co told Reuters in a statement ahead of the opening of Paradise City. “But we don’t expect the missile issue to continue in the long term.”
In 2016, South Korea received just over 17.2 million overseas visitors, with nearly 47 percent of the tally – or over 8 million arrivals – generated by China, according to figures published by the Korea Tourism Organization.
In his March interview with Korea JoongAng Daily, Paradise Co’s chairman Mr Chun reportedly said the location of Paradise City was one of the resort’s competitive advantages. The property is close to Seoul’s international airport, offering convenient access to international visitors flying in from several major cities in Northeast Asia.
“There will be many tourists coming from abroad to the resort,” Mr Chun said at the time. “We will have to see how it works out for the next three to four months to see how Paradise City will perform later on.”
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Chief executive of MGM China Holdings