SOUTH Korea’s banks federation has stepped in to boost the dismal domestic ticket sales for February’s Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.
After slow domestic sales – with only 124,000 of the 750,000 tickets earmarked for domestic sale being sold so far – the Korea Federation of Banks said it will buy US$879,895 (1 billion won) worth of tickets.
The federation said the purchase was part of its “social responsibility” efforts.
Response to the first phase of ticket sales in South Korea this year was hugely underwhelming.
As of late last week, 315,000 tickets had been sold in total – fewer than 30 percent of the 1.07 overall million target.
Of those sales, 60 percent have come from overseas – although the launch of online ticketing is expected to see a spike in sales.
Organisers hope to raise US$153.66 million (174.6 billion won) from ticket sales for the event, which takes place from February 9-25.
The banking federation said on Tuesday it decided to step in to help boost sales with less than five months to go before the opening ceremony.
“Buying tickets was considered one of the ways to support the Olympic Games considering the recent slow ticket sales,” federation official Shon Kyung-ae told Reuters.
“We have decided to buy 1 billion won worth of tickets.”
The federation also said it will donate US$17,605,313 (20 billion won) to organisers to help ensure the smooth running of the Games.
“As part of our social responsibility efforts, the federation has decided to support the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympic Games, which will be an opportunity to improve the country’s global image,” the federation said in a statement.
Attracting tourists to Pyeongchang, which is 180 kilometres east of Seoul, has long been a concern for organisers and the International Olympic Committee.
Organisers have also had to contend with diplomatic, security and political issues, with Pyeongchang just 80km south of the heavily fortified border with North Korea.
Eom Chan-wang, director general of marketing bureau at the Pyeongchang organising committee, said recently: “The political issues are having an impact on ticket sales.
“South Koreans don’t take the North Korean matter seriously, unlike those who live overseas. Foreigners are concerned South Korea is a dangerous place, but it is very peaceful here.” – Reuters.