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South Korea airport plans $3 billion casino resort

The operator of South Korea's main airport plans to build a $3 billion casino resort to woo increasingly wealthy travellers from China and elsewhere in Asia, its spokeswoman said Wednesday.

The Incheon International Airport Corp. is also mulling a bid for Edinburgh Airport as part of efforts to boost sources of income abroad, she told AFP.

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The new resort, to be built near the airport 50 kilometres (31 miles) west of Seoul, would feature facilities such as a hotel, casinos, convention centres, shopping malls and hospitals, she said.

"We plan to develop the property like the resorts in Las Vegas or Macau," she said, adding negotiations to select a developer are underway.

The airport already earns 65 percent of its revenue from hotels, duty-free sales and other services not directly linked to flying. Spending by Chinese and Japanese account for more than a quarter of duty-free sales.

The airport earned $1.26 billion in duty-free sales from January to October last year, and says it beat Dubai International Airport to become the world's top airport in such sales during the period.

South Korea's biggest hub handled about 35 million passengers last year and has been several times been rated the world's best airport by the Airports Council International.

Incheon is also considering a bid for Edinburgh Airport, whose operator was ordered by antitrust regulators to hive off Scotland's largest gateway.

"We are internally reviewing whether or not to join the bid as part of our overseas business drive," the spokeswoman said.

The conservative government announced a plan in 2008 to sell up to a 49 percent stake in Incheon airport as part of a privatisation drive.

But a parliamentary bill has been stalled in the face of opposition from lawmakers and civic groups.

by Claire Cozens © 2012 AFP

Published on ASDNews: Jan 11, 2012


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