Come winter, Alpensia Resort is a popular destination for sports such as skiing, snowboarding and snowmobiling. // © 2016 Melissa Karlin
Feature image (above): Alpensia Resort is a tourism hub in Gangwon province.// © 2016 Melissa Karlin
With the Olympic Summer Games in Rio fast approaching, the world will soon set its sights on Pyeongchang for the 2018 Winter Olympics.
Though this mountainous region in the eastern part of South Korea (not to be confused with Pyeongyang, the capital of North Korea) began hosting national winter sport competitions in the 1920s, the area remained relatively underdeveloped until the early 2000s. But with the Olympic Games drawing near, the region is now seeing an even bigger burst of development focusing not only on the games but also a sustainable system to support increased international tourism.
The PyeongChang Games will be held in two cluster cities: Pyeongchang, the mountain cluster, where snow sport events will be held; and Gangneung, the coastal cluster, where indoor ice events such as hockey and curling will take place. Events will also be held in the town of Jeongseon.
One of the major reasons for South Korea’s winning bid is the infrastructure that already existed in the region, notably Alpensia Resort. This alpine-style village is a hub for Gangwon province’s tourism.
“The idea to build Alpensia Report started in 2003,” said Kim Yujin, international media relations for The PyeongChang Organizing Committee for the 2018 Olympic & Paralympic Winter Games. “At the time, the area was only farmlands and potato fields. Today it is a luxury alpine resort nestled in the Taebaek Mountains and surrounded by world-class sports venues, and it offers excellent skiing, snowboarding and snowmobiling.”
The resort includes several large hotels and a convention center including InterContinental Alpensia Pyeongchang Resort (238 rooms), Holiday Inn Alpensia Pyeongchang Resort (214 rooms) and Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites Alpensia Pyeongchang Suites (419 rooms).
“During the period of the Winter Olympic Games, the resort will be used as the International Olympic Committee headquarters, media village and international broadcasting center/main press center,” said Yeongmi (Madison) Oh, assistant public relations manager at Alpensia Resort.
Even as the resort prepares itself for the Winter Games, the region still retains a sense of being a peaceful countryside getaway.
Six new venues are being built in the area, and systematic transport networks are in development, including railways, highways and airports that will support the influx of visitors during the Olympic Games. There will also be a new high-speed train from Seoul’s Incheon International Airport directly to the Olympics area. The developments aim to help solidify the area as a destination for winter sport enthusiasts internationally.
“The PyeongChang 2018 Games will be extremely compact, and all venues will be within a 30-mile driving radius, making travel and ticketing packages extremely attractive to see multiple snow and ice events,” Yujin said. “This should be a big selling point for a more inclusive Olympic Games experience.”
As greater tourism infrastructure gets closer toward completion, travel agents should suggest Pyeongchang to clients for the Olympics Games and beyond.