Home Macau The Korean island that’s taking on Macau

The Korean island that’s taking on Macau

A fishing island off the coast of South Korea’s third city, Incheon, is the latest location hoping to claim a slice of Asia’s lucrative gambling tourism market. Under recently announced plans, the city aims to redevelop Yongyu-Muui Island District into a gambling and leisure resort – and it has Macau squarely in its sights.

A $290 billion vision

EIGHTCITY casino projectUnder the plans, Yongyu-Muui will be transformed into into EIGHTCITY, a gambling and leisure complex that will span some 80 square kilometres (nearly three times the size of Macau), and be shaped in a figure of eight.

Although the island is looking towards the casino trade primarily, it is looking to feature other attractions, too. These include concert halls, shopping malls, a marina resort, conference facilities and even a Formula One-standard motorsport circuit.

This change isn’t going to come cheaply, nor happen overnight, however. Incheon City’s plans for the redevelopment call for $290 billion to be spent over the coming 18 years, with the project due to be complete in 2030.

A threat to Macau?

Its focus on the number eight is no coincidence. Eight is considered a lucky number in countries such as China, and it’s China’s middle and upper class gamblers and tourists that 8-City’s planners have squarely in their sights, along with gamblers from Japan.

This could potentially be bad news for Macau. Much of Macau’s gambling profits comes directly from high rollers and VIPs making the trip from China. Likewise, it has also been increasingly targeting middle class families as well to diversify its customer base.

Although Macau has faced competition from the likes of Singapore in recent years, Korea’s much closer proximity to China could potentially be bad news for the territory. EIGHTCITY will be closer to such major Chinese cities as Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin and Qingdao than Macau is. It is also close to Incheon International Airport, South Korea’s largest airport.

That said, with its reputation as Asia’s home of gambling still very much intact, and companies still eager to invest in new casinos, Macau’s position is unlikely to be threatened for the foreseeable future.