Posted on: November 29, 2021, 01:14h.
Last updated on: November 29, 2021, 01:14h.
It’s been a long and difficult period for Jeju Shinhwa World in South Korea. The integrated resort (IR) saw its first action in almost two years recently, welcoming a group of travelers from Singapore. It wasn’t much, but it’s a step in the right direction.
The Jeju Shinhwa Marriott, which finally was able to welcome a small group of guests this past weekend (Source: Marriott)
Media outlets in Jeju reported that around 30 people arrived at the IR from Singapore on November 25. They only stayed for a few days at the property’s Marriott Resort, departing to return home on November 29. While they were there, the visitors had access to the property’s casino, its amusement parks and dining facilities.
The visit comes after Singapore and South Korea signed a pact this month to create a travel bubble between the two countries. That agreement also allowed South Korea to receive its first air passengers at Incheon International Airport since early last year.
The Jeju Shinhwa World visitors were also provided with autonomous vehicles. The vehicles are reportedly a collaborative effort between the Singapore Automobile Association and the Jeju Tourism Organization.
This overseas group tour will be remembered as an important milestone in opening up the post-corona tourism era in Jeju,” a representative of Jeju Shinhwa World told local media.
Continued Struggles for Jeju Shinhwa
Jeju Shinhwa, a Landing International Development property, has had a rough go of things since it was first conceived. As is typical with large construction projects, the IR’s initial launch was delayed several times. It was going to open in December 2017, but later moved the launch date to January 2018.
It was then changed again, as there were issues getting the casino license in place. Finally, in February, the first phase of the IR’s operations began.
2019 saw some forward progress; however, a Chinese decree that prohibited travel to South Korea slowed everything down. 2020 didn’t help, with COVID-19 causing the second-largest foreigner-only casino additional problems.
To top it all off, a brazen employee reportedly absconded with $13 million in a massive, and embarrassing, heist. The employee was later arrested, with police recovering most of the money. Some had been stashed in a hidden safe at a VIP room at the casino, while another part was found at the 55-year-old employee’s home.
Welcome Changes Coming to Jeju
With the possibility that things might begin to normalize, big changes could be coming to Jeju. Should they arrive, the IR could ultimately get on the right track. It might all come down to one company’s dream.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Jeju Island was the most visited domestic tourist destination in the country. However, the only luxury boutiques on the island are those located at Jeju International Airport. However, these boutiques are not open to local visitors.
According to local media, Shinsegae, operator of the country’s largest retailer, opened a pop-up store for Chanel, a French luxury brand, at its The Shilla Jeju Hotel in March. The goal was to assess the market potential for luxury goods. It was a success and local retailers were shocked to discover that many of the items were sold through pre-booking.
Now, thanks to a partnership with US mall giant Simon, a Shinsegae Simon mall could be coming to Jeju. Shinsegae Department Store President Chung Yoo-kyung wants to build it into a landmark destination that offers a shopping mall, resort and a theme park. According to a company official, “We will bet on luxury brands solely to build Jeju Island as a global tourist destination like Hawaii.”