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Now is the Time to Invest in Jeju

Posted June. 02, 2009 07:36,   


Now is the Time to Invest in Jeju Island:
Icon-raising Malaysian Real Estate Maestro
One prominent visitor to the ASEAN-Korea summit can claim a better knowledge of the venue than most: Tan Sri Vincent Tan, 57, chairman and CEO of Malaysian developer Berjaya Group, is inves-ting US$1.8 billion in Jeju. We have decided that Jeju is the best place to invest because it has a beautiful natural environment and remains underdeveloped, Tan told Kim Tae-hwan, governor of the Special Self-Governing Province of Jeju, on April 29 when Kim visited Kuala Lumpur. Tan added that Jeju, Koreas top island resort, was an attractive proposition even amid the current economic crisis. Berjaya, Malaysias sixth largest conglomerate, owns the landmark Berjaya Times Square Hotel and a huge shopping mall in downtown Kuala Lumpur. It also owns a resort complex and around 100 subsidiaries and affiliates including 15 listed companies in various in-dustries such as real estate development, lottery operation, retail and airlines. The company is now investing in the Yerae Resort-type Residential Complex Project, Seogwipo, a core development project driven by Jeju Free Inter-national City Development Center (JDC), a public corporation affiliated with the Ministry of Land, Trans-port and Maritime Affairs. Berjayas investment decision came about by chance. Mr. Tan was flipping through a business magazine when a JDC advertisement caught his eye. He was grabbed by the geopolitical potential of Jeju: It lies within a 2-hour flight of all major Northeast Asian cities including Beijing, Shanghai, Tokyo and Seoul. He was also attracted to the fact that Jeju was an island, for Tan has already built a range of resorts on islands across the breadth of Southeast Asia. He dispatched an on-site inspe-ction team. Their conclusion? Jejus natural environment was beautiful but the island lacked to-urism infrastructure such as airline routes and shopping malls. Tan decided to see for himself and visited in July 2007. He marveled at the islands fresh air, crystal clear sea and luxuriant forests. He was convinced that building a huge hotel, casino, and shopping mall in Jeju would attract tourists from across Asia. I realized that the current gov-ernment of Korea is committed to attracting foreign investment and developing the Korean economy, Tan said. Compared to Chinas Hainan Island, Jeju has a cleaner natural environment but does not have sufficient large-scale tourism facilities. Now is the time to invest in Jeju! An investment agreement was signed in 2007, followed by a groundbreaking ceremony in the same year. In August 2008, Berjaya Jeju Resort, an 81:19 joint venture between Berjaya and JDC, was launched. Berjaya confirmed it would invest US$ 1.8 billion, by 2015 for the construction of the Yerae Resort-type Residential Complex. This makes it the largest foreign direct investment ever made in a single project on Jeju. The 744,000-square meter resort complex will include a high-rise hotel as tall as the landmark 63 Building located on Seouls Yeouido Island (249 meters). A total of 1,920 rooms will be spread over a residence hotel, a casino hotel, a resort hotel and a condominium. Other commercial facilities, including specialized and general shopping malls and an indoor sports center, will be built on the 329,000-square meter site. A 150-bed medical facility is also to be con-structed. I would like to make the residence hotel an icon of Jeju Island, said Tan. Although we are currently under-going a financial crisis, investment in Jeju will be one of our top-priority projects and will be carried out without fail the businessman added. By Im Jae-young jy788@donga.com