Yeosu Expo short on quality lodgings
Yeosu Expo, which will have its grand opening today, will continue for 93 days, and its organizers expect nearly 10 million people to visit during the period.
Given the location of the venue that is remote from Seoul the expo organizing committee expects many people to travel to the venue on a two-day-and-one-night itinerary. Based on the prediction, the committee made a list of hotels, motels and other forms of lodging services providers, and plans to provide the information to visitors unfamiliar with the small coastal town.
Yet there is a headache remaining unsettled: the lack of “quality” accommodation.
In this context, I don’t refer to “high quality” as red-carpet treatment offered by five-star hotels, but as a basic level of services that are available even at shabby motels in big cities.
In Yeosu that still remains undeveloped to a great extent, except for the expo venue, taking a shower in hot water and hooking up to the Internet where you sleep at anytime you want seems to be only for guests at luxury hotels.
“Do you provide an Internet connection?” I asked a motel manager on the phone Wednesday night. I spent the whole day covering the expo’s pre-opening events for journalists and was extremely exhausted. The manager bluntly answered, “We don’t provide it.”
I asked again: “What about other motels? Are they the same?” The manager said, “Yes, maybe the same.”
I phoned several other motels that charge between 30,000 won and 50,000 won ($26-43) for a one-night stay, but failed to find one offering Internet connection. The majority of motels on the list were in that price range.
I managed to find one saying “Yes,” but it was a tourist hotel that charged 80,000 won for one night. “We began to offer a wireless Internet service just a couple of weeks ago,” the hotel’s manager said. “We installed the system for foreign visitors. I believe there are only a handful of hotels (in Yeosu) offering an Internet service.”
Fortunately, its Internet connection was fast and stable as the manager promised. But another frustration erupted when I turned on the bathroom faucet to take a shower. Pouring down from the shower head was cold water and I couldn’t feel any change in temperature for minutes, so I called the manager and vented my complaint.
The manager offered an apology and said, “In that case, just leave the faucet running for seven or eight minutes. Then you will have warm water.” He said it takes some time for the hotel’s boiler to produce hot water since other guests had used up hot water produced in the evening.
It would be hard to imagine that there is a place where having warm water and an Internet connection are not guaranteed in a country that looks to become the world’s leading economy. But that’s the reality of Yeosu.
Thankfully, however, the expo is not a short-term event. It runs for as long as three months, which means it’s time for Yeosu City, though belated, to make a bold decision to upgrade its tourism infrastructure to a great extent.
This work is needed not only for the expo, but to strengthen the basic health and competitiveness of Yeosu.