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483-km coastal road to be built in southern Korea

Posted February. 28, 2017 06:59,   

Updated February. 28, 2017 07:04


Malaga in Spain is famous for a 339-kilometer coastal road in the Mediterranean Sea. Called the Costa del Sol, the road is visited by 18 million people per year, having a huge impact on the regional economy as it accounts for 35 percent of the Andalusian tourism industry.

At the 11th trade and investment promotion meeting on Monday, the government presented a development plan for a southern coastal route linking Goheung County in South Jeolla Province and Geoje City in South Gyeongsang Province, which is aimed at restoring the sluggish regional economy due to the downturn of the shipbuilding industry there. Another purpose is to develop Korea's key tourism brand that can help disperse foreign investors crowded in Seoul (78.7 percent) and Jeju (18.3 percent).

The key to this project is to develop a tourism course where visitors can stay longer. Tongyeong City in South Gyeongsang Province and Yeosu City in South Jeolla Province, which are included in the tourism course, are already very popular among Koreans. However, people tend to stay in just one of these places due to inconvenient traffic and lack of related tourism products.

The government will build bridges in four dead-end roads to create a 483-kilomter road potentially named "indigo roller road." Just like the national tourism road in Norway created along the coastal lines, the government will build a theme-oriented tourism course where visitors can enjoy fisheries villages and arts products. Various sightseeing is possible as cruise and flight tours will be vitalized that link various islands including Hallyeosudo.

The project is also intended for urban regeneration. Many shipyards have been closed while construction plans are cancelled in Tongyeong, Geoje and Hadong in South Gyeongsang Province. As more schools are closing due to the aging population, the government plans to use these places as tourism infrastructure including lodging facilities. Malmö of Sweden is a good example, as the city has been changed into a start-up zone after replacing the area of shipbuilding with housing-commercial facilities. However, there are also concerns of the difficulty of the development. If specific tourism products become popular, other regional governments will rush to mimic, which could result in a loss of unique regional characteristics. For example, the south coastal "sun belt project" that started in 2010 resulted in so many lodging facilities in coastal areas. The lack of private investment and budget have also made it difficult to boost performance.

The Land, Infrastructure and Transport Ministry and the Trade, Industry and Energy Ministry are planning to expand infrastructure for environment-friendly cars. Two hundred complex rest areas installed with hydrogen and electric cars will be built by 2025 nationwide, while highway tolls will be lowered by up to 50 percent, which will be announced in the third quarter of this year.

Sung-Min Park min@donga.com · Ho-Sung Cheon thousand@donga.com