Build it and they will come? Korea's whopping US$275 billion tourism city plan

Build it and they will come? Korea's whopping US$275 billion tourism city plan

Mammoth new tourism hub 8City will be three times the size of Macau and shamelessly aimed at Chinese tourists
What may look like the set of the new Disney Star Wars movies is actually 8City, Korea's latest tourism project.

Local news outlets call the scale “astronomical.” Some question its economic feasibility.

Either way it is one hell of an ambitious tourism venture.

The project in question is the creation of a gigantic 'tourism city' called 8City. Plans are for it to be built on the islands of Yongyu-Muui in the port city of Incheon, next to Incheon International Airport.

Plans for the city 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.

An all in one tourism destination that visitors won't want to leave. But not just any visitor.

The project aims firmly at the massive and growing market of mainland Chinese tourists.

It incorporates the number '8' into both its name and physical design directly in order to attract Chinese visitors, as the number symbolizes good fortune in Chinese culture.

Incheon City officials announced the cost of the project to be around ₩300 trillion, or US$275 billion, to be funded by the city in conjunction with foreign and domestic investors.

To put that in perspective, that figure is more than the GDP of Singapore, according to World Bank figures

Developer Eightcity Co., the company formulated for this project, claims the 80-square-kilometer 8City will be the largest single tourism project in the world, and will be "three times the size of Macau." Macau's land size is approximately 28.2 square kilometers. 

8city The creatively-named Megastrip, one of the landmarks of 8City.

The main landmarks will include the 'Inner Circle' -- a “smart” tubular 14-kilometer building along the coast -- and the 'Megastrip,' which, at 200 meters high, 880 meters wide and 3.3 kilometers long will be the world's largest single architectural unit (when it's built, that is.)

The gross surface area of the Megastrip will be 4.85 square kilometers. That's larger than the Boeing Everett Factory's usable floor space, and larger than Dubai International Airport's Terminal 3. The Megastrip will be filled with hotels, offices, shopping and other tourist attractions.

Incheon City estimates 8City will create 930,000 new jobs and attract 134 million tourists by 2030. 


Due to its sheer scale, some are questioning whether this project will actually come to fruition. 

Yonhap News Agency published an article titled "Will financing actually be possible for the Yongyu-Muui ₩300 trillion development project?" pointing out the money that has been raised so far does not constitute half the estimated cost for land compensation (link in Korean). 

"All discussions about financing and investors will have to commence after the land compensation begins next year," the spokesperson for 8City told CNN. 

The first stage of development is slated for completion by 2020, while the projected end date for the entire project is 2030. 

"Development plans for 8City are currently under review by the Free Economic Zone committee," said a Ministry of Knowledge Economy representative. 

Pretty pictures and bold plans. Do you think the project will fly or even get off the ground? Let us know below.

8city Incheon is hoping this particular number eight will entice Chinese tourists.

Also on CNN: Incheon Airport keeps thinking it's Las Vegas 

Frances Cha is a Digital Producer at CNN Travel. 


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