In a bid to rival the world’s major gambling and tourism destinations, Korea is planning to build a massive, ridiculously expensive “tourism city” — built in the shape of the number 8, a lucky number in China — to specifically attract super rich Chinese tourists.
The ₩300 trillion (about $270 billion) 8City project will be three times larger than Macau, a major gambling and tourism destination in China, when it’s finished in about 20 years. The 31 square mile development will be built in Korea’s third largest city, Incheon, on the Yongyu-Muui islands. According to CNN, plans include “travel and leisure facilities from luxury hotels, condominiums, casinos and shopping malls to a theme park, a water park, a Formula One racing track, a 50,000-seat concert hall, a medical tourism-based “healing town” and a “hallyu town” showcasing Korean entertainment.”
Developers say they have already attracted about $3.8 billion in investments. But with such high ambitions that’s just a drop in the bucket.
“When the country’s grandest construction project is completed in 2030, more than 350,000 people will reside in 8City. It will attract about 134 million tourists annually, providing jobs for over 930,000,” an Incheon city official told The Korea Times. “The scheme will create hundreds of thousands of new decent jobs in the services sector and provide a vibrant boost to the local economy.”
It’s an ambitious project, to be sure, but I wonder if these are the kinds of major projects that are really worth pursuing for cities. Sure, it could be a boost for the economy, but as an average citizen I think I would rather my city focus on seeking investors for projects that impact the daily lives of everyone, not just the rich.
Photo: Courtesy of 8City