PYEONGCHANG, GANGNEUNG, Dec. 7 (Korea Bizwire) – With one eye on the upcoming Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics, certain accommodations businesses in Pyeongchang and surrounding areas have set prices sky-high, resulting in voices criticizing the entire area as the “rip-off Olympics”.
At the same time, concerns are being raised that come February, large blocks of suites and rooms will remain empty, a potential casualty of proprietors refusing to take reservations by individual customers.
As public disgust over the accommodations industry attempting to take advantage of the Olympics remains strong, statements like “I’ll watch on TV”, “I won’t go anywhere near Pyeongchang or Gangneung” and “If I go, I’ll return on the same day” are being uttered with greater frequency by South Koreans.
In response to the allegations, the association of accommodations businesses have appealed to establishments throughout the area to participate in its price adjustment campaign, while the Gangwon provincial government has announced it will throw its full weight behind rectifying the issue. Though these official statements have led to prices dropping, there has been little change on the books, with the number of reservations made still remaining in the doldrums.
According to the provincial government, only 6 percent (265) of 4,797 establishments had been booked as of December 1. The percentage of bookings rose to 14 percent when considering the number of rooms booked (9,288) to total rooms available (67,879), but either way of looking at the situation only serves to prove the point.
Prices for a standard motel room throughout the Olympics have even dipped as low as 150,000 to 200,000 won per night in the Gangneung and Pyeongchang areas, and 100,000 won or lower in cities and counties farther away from Pyeongchang.
To explain the lack of customer activity, the province believes that rumors of accommodations businesses jacking up their prices and disregarding individual customers for group reservations or long term stays, have caused visitors to give up the search for a room.
Should this be true, the behavior of a number of ill-spirited businesses will have had a detrimental effect on their fellow competitors. According to the industry and the provincial authorities, a large number of establishments have yet to receive even a phone call inquiring about availability.
For many, the current booking malaise evokes memories of Expo 2012. Held in Yeosu, businesses took full advantage the day before the opening ceremony, charging excessive amounts for a 1-night stay. However, as the flow of visitors to the expo began to slow, businesses eventually had to slash prices, with a room for four going at 70,000 won on some nights.
With certain proprietors going as far as having advised inquiring customers to opt for a day trip and deter them from making reservations, the entire situation these businesses find themselves may seem to be simply karma. However, the repercussions of price-gouging have come back to haunt not just those who deserve their comeuppance, but those completely innocent of such actions.