SEOUL, Jan.7 (Korea Bizwire) – Although the number of foreigners visiting Korea every year is reaching 20 million, five star hotels in Korea seem to be neglecting hansik, traditional Korean cuisine.
According to industry analysts, among the 20 five star hotels located in Seoul, only three hotels had Korean restaurants – the Sheraton Grand Walkerhill, Lotte Hotel and Hotel Shilla.
The Westin Chosun, Millennium Seoul Hilton, and Intercontinental used to have Korean restaurants, but closed them in 2005, 1999 and 2010 respectively. The Four Seasons Hotel, which is located in Gwanghwamun and claims to stand as a ‘six star hotel’, didn’t even have a Korean restaurant when it opened in October 2015.
The hotels explain that the reason they do not offer Korean dining options is because of profitability.
Hilton Hotel officials commented that to their knowledge, the Korean restaurant was removed because of low profits, and that foreign visitors seemed to prefer restaurants outside the hotel.
Officials from Marriott Hotel say that more effort and investment is needed to operate a Korean restaurant, as there are many side dishes required compared to western cuisine. Also, they claim that domestic consumers are not familiar with the fact that Korean restaurants in hotels are more expensive, leading to lower demand.
However, according to hotels that operate Korean restaurants, the profits are reasonable compared to the costs.
Rayeon, the Korean Restaurant at Hotel Shilla, has an average reservation rate of 70 percent. It was also listed in ‘Asia’s top 50 restaurants’ last year, which is also called the ‘Asian Michelin’.
The Korean restaurant at the Sheraton Walkerhill also has an average reservation rate of 80 percent.
Industry watchers point out that if five star hotels choose not to run Korean restaurants because of unfounded concerns over profitability, it may mislead foreign visitors and give them the wrong impression of Korea.
According to the Korea Tourism Organization, the number of foreign visitors will reach 20 million in 2019, and the government is pushing to publish a Korean version of the Michelin Guide, which is the most prestigious international restaurant evaluation guide issued in France.
While progress is being made to let Korea be known to the world, experts point out that five star hotels are throwing out the opportunity to promote hansik internationally by themselves.
By Lina Jang (firstname.lastname@example.org)