Gov't to crack down on overpriced lodging for PyeongChang Olympics.
The government plans to crack down on overpriced accommodations ahead of the PyeongChang Winter Olympics, slated from Feb. 9 to 25 by the country's mountainous east coast.
The Ministry of the Interior and Safety said Sunday it will conduct an intensive crackdown from Dec. 26 to Jan. 31, 2018; it will continue regular monitoring of the accommodations until March.
It will also punish businesses over other practices, such as canceling reservations and failing to meet government standards in terms of hygiene and construction.
The government will receive complaints through call centers, primarily through the 1330 Korea Travel Hotline. It currently provides services in Korean, English, Japanese, and Chinese, but will be expanded to provide services in Vietnamese, Malaysian, Thai and Russian starting next year.
Additional call centers have been installed for the games under the ministry and at the provincial and local levels.
The move comes as part of the government's effort to boost ticket sales for the PyeongChang games, seen as critical for the tourism industry here.
Many a including foreign media outlets a have cast doubt over the success of the games, clouded by nuclear threats from North Korea, just 80 km away from PyeongChang, coupled with tepid enthusiasm of local residents.
Ticket sales have been sluggish, falling way behind its original target of 1.1 million. They have recently picked up, with around 550,000 tickets being sold as of the end of November, according to the local Olympics organizing committee.
Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon echoed this concern during his visit to the 1330 Korea Travel Hotline center in Jongno-gu, central Seoul, Sunday.
"The tourism industry's trade deficit is at 12 billion dollars and will likely hit its highest this year. It will become difficult to manage if this trend continues," Lee said. "With the winter Olympics coming up, we have a good opportunity to put a stop to this trend," Lee said.
He also requested the center to recruit more people who can speak Russian and Southeast Asian languages, citing the need to divert attention away from China, Japan and the U.S. and focus on attracting more visitors from the emerging countries.