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Size Matters? South Korea to Open the Largest Tourism Resort in Northeast Asia

In our time and age, few can deny that size makes a difference. Capitalist societies just seem to work better when the economy of scale kicks in. Still, many of us thought that the pandemic experience would teach the world about the dangers of overconsumption and the supersize-me approach. Or could the consequences of this great calamity be the complete opposite and drive countries towards even bigger investment in order to jumpstart the economy? The recent news seems to prove the latter point.

Whatever South Korea may lack it is certainly not ambition. The country is planning to host the biggest tourist resort in Northeast Asia and has already managed to secure $1.5bn in funding. The Inspire Integrated Resort is to be built in the Incheon Free Economic Zone near Seoul’s international airport. The creators’ aspirations are truly massive: the first phase will include a five-star hotel with more than 1,000 rooms, a concert hall for 15,000 spectators, an indoor waterpark, a shopping mall, and a casino.

If the plans are undisturbed Inspire will open its doors in 2023, by which time the Covid-19 pandemic will have luckily subsided and the international travel resumed, even if not at the grand pre-pandemic volumes. The project is taken care of by a consortium made up of Connecticut-based Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority (MGTA), KCC, a Korean industrial company, and UK investor Miura Holdings, in cooperation with Incheon International Airport.

The initial agreement on the project preliminaries between Mohegan and the Incheon International Airport was reached back in June 2015. At the time, the idea was to “create an epicenter for Korea’s growing entertainment, tourism, and hospitality industry”. Being a proud bearer of the “Best airport in the world” plaque since 2005, Incheon commented that the resort would help it cement its position as a top leisure destination in Asia as well. Furthermore, the airport representative set the aims high: “We look forward to benefiting from MTGA’s expertise and collaborating with our existing partners and 40,000 employees to execute on this vision and deliver exceptional experiences for our guests.”

A total of three resort complexes are planned to be developed in the economic zone – Paradise City, Inspire, and RFKR. The former one opened in April 2017, but the opening of the remaining projects has been delayed due to the pandemic. Thankfully, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism agreed to extend the projects’ deadlines and ease funding conditions. Hopefully, the worst is behind us, and the country will be able to execute its grand plans without further ado.

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