Pyeongchang Ticket Sales Still Struggling Due To Several Factors, Including North Korea
The Pyeongchang Games are "struggling to draw visitors from home and abroad, largely because of fears" about North Korea, according to Thomas Maresca of USA TODAY. As of Nov. 16, organizers said that they have "hit just 41% of their sales target of 1.06 million tickets, with sales in South Korea even weaker than those by international tourists." Chicago-based Sports Traveler Founder Anbritt Stengele and other travel agents said that factors "ranging from fears about North Korea aggression to the absence of NHL players to concerns about travel logistics have put a big damper on interest." Stengele added that North Korea is a "big factor." The possibility of a "hostile incident during the Olympics is hanging in the air." Seasoned Olympic travelers are also "balking about flying into" Seoul and then having to "transfer to event sites located more than 140 miles away." A new high-speed rail line, set to open by the end of the year, will travel "directly from Incheon Airport to Gangneung, the hub city for ice sports, in a little over two hours." From downtown Seoul to Pyeongchang, where the snow sports and Opening and Closing ceremonies will be held, the travel time is "about an hour and a half." Organizers said that they are "expecting some visitors to commute" to the Games from Seoul. Maresca notes South Korea has been "suffering from a massive drop in visitors from China, in large part because of the deployment of a U.S. anti-missile defense system last May that has angered the communist government in Beijing." Organizers said that they are "still confident on hitting their targets, and are counting on momentum building as the Games approach" (USA TODAY, 11/21).