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Aftermath of the World Cup

Posted July. 02, 2002 22:57,   


Local governments are suffering from a severe fatigue after hosting World Cup matches.

Korea has achieved intangible results of an improved national image and the integration of the people by progressing to the semifinals and through massive street cheering of football fans. But local governments, which hosted World Cup matches, have gained few economic benefits and are about to fall into huge debts.

They anticipated special demands and poured an enormous amount of money into building a variety of facilities, preparing for the World Cup. But they could not enjoy any economic benefits, because fewer foreign tourists have visited venue cities than expected. Moreover, after the World Cup, they have yet to find ways of utilizing newly-built stadiums.

Earlier, Ministry of Culture and Tourism had expected 540,000 foreigners to come to Korea during the football festival. But it is estimated that only about 310,000 visited.

▽ Upset Expectation & Expected Deficit

Seoquipo City in Jeju Island forecasted about 50,000 to 70,000 of foreign tourists. But it turned out to be just 22,000. The city invested 112.5 billion won to construct a stadium, of which 35 billion won was appropriated by issuing local bonds, and remains as a debt.

City officials planned to host various international tournaments and create tourist spots around the stadium. Now, however, they do not know how to retrieve the principal spent for the construction of the stadium and raise the money amounting to about 2 billion won per year to maintain it.

Ulsan City earlier expected that about 50,000 of tourists, the press, and members of football teams would come to the city and spend 107.8 won. So the city offered as much as 1.65 billion won to install interpretation devices at 406 designated lodging facilities. But only 20,000 foreigners visited and few of them stayed at such facilities.

Suwon City also anticipated about 80,000 foreigners, but the figure turned out to be just 45,000, a fifth of which checked into hotels in the city. Therefore, a campground only for foreigners in World Village had to be closed earlier than planned.

Inchon City expected a special demand due to China. But as the Chinese team failed to progress to the second round and the immigration screening process was reinforced during the World Cup, the city failed to obtain its desired result.

Chonju City is no exception. City officials expected a special demand in case the Korean team would play the second round in the city. But it was dealt a hard blow when the second round match was held in Daejon.

“We would have no choice but to be satisfied with the fact that by hosting the World Cup matches, the city expanded infrastructure and boosted its image,” said one official of Daegu City.

▽ Agony Over Raising Money

Local governments agonize over how to raise 2 to 5 billion won yearly to maintain stadiums, let alone the money spent to build various facilities.

Seoul City plans to make profits by hosting a professional football team, sports tournaments, and large-scale performances. The city called for bids to lease 11 incidental facilities and made provisional contracts amounting to 11 billion won. Carrefour Korea would open a discount store on lease for 20 years at the cost of 9.1 billion won a year.

Gwangju City is going to raise 600 million won yearly by hosting a professional soccer team and building billboards. In addition, it will allow companies to open discount stores, entertainment facilities, and cultural centers in the Gwangju football stadium.

Daejon City is trying to utilize the parking lot in the first basement of the Daejon stadium as a discount store and the rest space as indoor golf practice ranger and swimming pool.

Hoon Lee dreamland@donga.com