Overbooking for the World Cup puts S. Korean hotels in a bind

So many empty rooms, so little time to fill them

May 28, 2002|By BLOOMBERG NEWS

SEOUL. South Korea - South Korean hotels says the FIFA World Cup Accommodation Bureau overestimated the number of visitors to this year's soccer World Cup by as much as three times, leaving them with empty rooms and little time to fill them.

Byrom Consultants Ltd., which has a contract with 213 Korean hotels, canceled more than two-thirds of 796,158 rooms covered in the agreement, the Korean World Cup Organizing Committee reports. The accommodations agency cut a quarter of those as late as April 30. The tournament opens Friday.

Some hotels had agreed to provide up to 70 percent of their rooms to Byrom. They are now trying to attract customers with a month to go before the peak summer holiday season starts.

"We thought it would be as good as the 1988 Olympic Games, but we were burned," said Alex Chung, an official at Songdo Beach Hotel in Inchon. The city will play host to three matches, including that of world champion France against Denmark on June 11.

The accommodations agent said bookings were first made before the tournament schedule was determined, causing organizers to request more rooms than necessary.

South Korea is expecting 450,000 visitors during the month-long tournament.

"This kind of thing shouldn't happen at such a big international event," said Kim Suk Kyung, an official at the Hotel Lotte Busan, part of South Korea's largest chain of luxury hotels.

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