SEOUL, May 29 (Korea Bizwire) — The hotel industry, which has been hit hard by the novel coronavirus pandemic, has started to seek alternatives by launching a host of new services, including food and beverage events as well as lodging-related events.
The average hotel occupancy rate in Seoul, which during normal times remains between 60 and 70 percent, has plummeted to the 10 percent range since the outbreak of COVID-19, according to industry sources.
This is because the number of foreign tourists has dropped close to zero, and various business guests, who used to account for a large portion of the demand while attending events such as academic conferences and training, have stopped visiting as the observance of social distancing spread.
According to official statistics, the number of foreign tourists who visited Korea last month was down 98.2 percent from the same month last year.
The hotel industry is expected to stay afloat by implementing various services other than accommodation at a time when it is difficult to attract guests.
In particular, events in the food and beverage sectors are being actively promoted.
Lotte Hotel Seoul has been selling hotel restaurant dishes such as grilled salmon and truffle lasagna via a “drive-through” since March in line with growing demand for “untact” or non-face-to-face services.
Grand InterContinental Seoul Parnas will also sell two kinds of fried chicken from the restaurant Grand Delhi on a drive-through basis from June 1.
In addition, unique services such as operating individual and family pools at hotel swimming pools or conducting cultural courses such as flower arrangement are becoming popular.
There are also unconventional discount events and special packages for guests.
Marriott International has been offering a 50 percent discount on room reservations at 19 local Marriott-affiliated hotels, including JW Marriott, since last Monday.
Shilla Stay, Hotel Shilla’s premium business hotel brand, has launched a “romantic honeymoon” package that offers a variety of benefits, including wine sets, targeting newlyweds who have chosen to remain in South Korea for their honeymoon.
“Jeju Island, which was the mecca of honeymooning before the complete liberalization of overseas travel in 1989, is absorbing the demand for honeymoon trips overseas,” an official at the Shilla Hotel said.
“The number of customers purchasing a ‘Sweet Honeymoon’ package at the Shilla Hotel on Jeju Island in April has more than tripled compared to March.”
D. M. Park (firstname.lastname@example.org)