|By Lee Woo-young, The Korea Herald, Seoul
/ Asia News NetworkMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News
June 19, 2012--SEOUL (The Korea Herald/ANN) -- Korea has emerged as a major international tourist destination and Hyatt, a major international hotel chain, expects more openings in the country including a Park Hyatt in Busan to meet the growing tourism demand, said the North Asia area vice president of Hyatt Hotel Corporation Peter Walshaw.
"We are expecting new hotels in high growth markets and Korea is one of those. We do see very strong growth here and expect more inbound guests and also guests from the local community," said Walshaw, who also has been the general manager of Grand Hyatt Seoul since 1991.
According to the Korea Tourism Organization statistics, foreign visitors to Korea increased by 12.5 percent in 2010 with the majority of visitors coming from Asia -34 percent from Japan and 21 percent from China, Walshaw said.
To meet the growing number of leisure and business travelers to Korea, the hotel chain plans to open Park Hyatt Busan in the country's second largest city, which has seen a great surge in foreign tourists lately.
The annual average growth rate of international visitors to Busan from 2001 to 2010 showed a five percent increase and 10 percent for the last five years, according to KTO.
In 2010, Chinese travelers alone increased by 44 percent compared to the previous year.
"Park Hyatt Busan will be a guest's perfect destination for leisure, or business, or both," said Marc Von Arnim, general manager of Park Hyatt Busan.
Park Hyatt Busan aims to position itself as the nation's No.1 luxury hotel. It will be set along the coast line overlooking the Gwangan Bridge, a famous tourist spot.
"In spite of the growth (in the number of foreign visitors), there is a void in the luxury hotel segment and a lack of dedicated personal services. With the entry of Park Hyatt Busan into the market, there will soon be a new high-end segment of luxury hotels to satisfy the discerning demand of both leisure and corporate guests," said Von Arnim.
Starting with Park Hyatt, Hyatt is considering more opportunities to have other brands in Busan.
"We are looking at more opportunities to have Andaz or perhaps Hyatt Regency as well in the future," said Walshaw.
Andaz is an upscale boutique hotel and Regency is usually located near airports and resort destinations.
"Busan is a big leisure market for Korea. More and more people are going to Busan, not only from Korea, but from Japan, China and markets like Russia. We are seeing Busan turning into more than just a tourism destination," Walshaw added.
Walshaw also hinted that they are looking into opportunities to introduce Andaz hotels in Seoul.
"We are looking at very different opportunities -cities like Daejeon (and) Daegu, which are not really serviced by the international hotel sector yet. Other sites in Seoul, but away from the city center, which are not suited to a full-service hotel, may be appropriate for a limited service, business hotel," Walshaw said.
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