Grand Korea Leisure Co Ltd is seeking to operate casinos on cruise ships. The company has already engaged a consulting firm to study the economic feasibility of the project.
The South Korean-based casino operator made the announcement on Friday, reports the Korean Times. The news comes after South Korean authorities approved new rules to promote the cruise industry, allowing foreigners-only casinos on Korean cruise ships displacing more than 20,000 tons.
The feasibility study is forecast to last six months, according to the media report. Chinese tourists would be the main target of the operation.
Grand Korea Leisure is an affiliate of the Korea Tourism Organization, South Korea’s official tourism agency. The casino operator is listed on the Korea Exchange.
“We’ll consider various options, such as operating casinos on foreign cruise lines’ ships or directly setting up cruise lines,” the newspaper quoted an unnamed Grand Korea Leisure official as saying.
The number of tourists going to Korea on cruise ships is increasingly rapidly. The figure stood at 1.05 million last year, up by almost one third in year-on-year terms, according to official figures. Close to 90 percent were Chinese.
South Korea currently has no domestic cruise operator.
Grand Korea Leisure runs three foreigners-only casinos in South Korea, under the ‘Seven Luck’ brand. Two properties are located in the South Korean capital Seoul, while the other is in the southern port city of Busan, a popular tourism destination.
South Korea has recently taken several steps to further develop its casino industry. Some analysts have said that could be an attempt to recreate the allure that Chinese tourists already accord to Las Vegas and Macau as must-visit gambling and entertainment destinations.
Earlier this month, the South Korean government said it would approve two more foreigners-only casino resorts, in addition to two already announced.
South Korea currently has 16 casinos for foreigners-only and one for locals, according to the University of Nevada Las Vegas Center for Gaming Research.
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