South Korea plans to launch casino cruise ships for locals

South Korea plans to launch cruises that will allow its locals to gamble within the year, with the vessels serving ports around the country, according to local media.

The Korea Joongang Daily reported that the Korean government is looking to attract three million tourists by 2020 with its cruise ship venture by allowing Korean nationals and foreigners to gamble onboard. Currently Koreans are only allowed to play in the casino in Jeongseon, Gangwon. 

The Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries announced that the government will establish docks exclusively for cruise ships in Busan, Incheon, Jeju, and Sokcho, Gangwon, by 2016. Existing docks will also be modified to allow cruise ship access, the newspaper said. 

The ministry added that it plans to operate two trial runs to major tourist destinations in Korea and Japan soon.

To help get the industry started, the government will provide companies with financial support such as loans to make the initial investments needed. 

“If the discussed plans are pushed forward without any problems, we will be able to launch at least a single cruise ship carrying the national flag and reach our goal of 1.2 million cruise tourists by the end of this year,” Oceans Minister Yoo Ki-june was quoted by the Joongang Daily as saying. 

According to the ministry, in 2014 the spending by each cruise tourist averaged 1.17 million won, which totaled 1.22 trillion won from the 1.05 million cruise tourists who traveled on Korean ships last year.

The number of global cruise tourists is expected to grow to 37 million by 2020, 43 percent more than the 20.98 million recorded in 2013, according to the ministry’s report.