23 January , 2013
Chinese Company Eyeing Korean Hotel
The Harbor Park Hotel located in Incheon
A Chinese company has submitted a letter of intent to the Incheon Development & Tourism Corp. (IDTC) to acquire the Harbor Park Hotel in the port city, IDTC officials said Tuesday.
If successful, it would mean the first Chinese ownership of a large-size Korean hotel, they said.
“The Chinese firm has expressed interest in buying the hotel,” an IDTC official said. “Nothing has been decided yet but it is expected to be one of the strongest candidates as we will take an official steps to publicly invite investors next week.”
The four-star business hotel is located in Hyang-dong, near Incheon Port International Passenger Terminal, and has 213 rooms. Incheon has been a growing destination for Chinese leisure and business travelers, who find the ferries connecting the city with Chinese ports convenient, according to the IDTC official.
“The hotel has been in the black for years due to Chinese tourists and businessmen. Many local investors want to buy into the hotel business here, especially after the city has been chosen to host the Green Climate Fund (GCF),” he said.
The Songdo area of Incheon was selected last year as the location for the GCF secretariat, which will lead to a growing demand for businesses such as hotels, tourism, transportation and finance. As the GCF will hold various international events, the hotel business is especially expected to boom.
The IDTC sold the Songdo Park Hotel right after Songdo was chosen to host the GCF last year, and the Songdo Bridge Hotel is also seeking a new owner. Many new hotels have been under construction in the port city as well.
A Harbor Park Hotel official also said they have seen an increasing number of Chinese tourists in recent years, adding many Chinese visitors stay in Incheon before traveling to other cities.
“Over 50 percent of our customers are foreigners, mainly Japanese and Chinese,” he said.
“It’s nothing unusual for a Chinese firm to buy a local hotel given the fast growing number of Chinese tourists here. I think many Chinese investors are eying the local hotel business,” a hotelier said.
Last year, the number of foreign tourists surpassed 11 million for the first time, due mainly to the growing influx of Chinese and Japanese tourists. The biggest proportion was from Japan but Chinese visitors are soon expected account for the highest number of overseas visitors.
The growth rate of Chinese tourists is 1.5 times higher than that of Japanese. It recorded a 29 percent growth rate last year whereas it was 19.6 for those from Japan. The number of Chinese tourists is estimated to reach 2.83 million in 2013. <The Korea Times/Kim Tae-jong>
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