South Korean travel firm Lotte Tour Development Co, operator of the recently opened Jeju Dream Tower, has reported losses of KRW78.82 billion (US$70.1 million) in 2020, impacted by a sharp reduction in its various travel businesses as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to information posted with the Korea Exchange, sales fell 81% year-on-year in 2020 to KRW16.7 billion (US$14.9 million), with an operating loss of KRW694.37 billion (US$618 million).
Lotte Tour’s core business is the provision of travel services, including package tours, golf tours, cruises, airline tickets and hotel reservation services.
However, it also operates a casino in Lotte Hotel Jeju. The company is currently awaiting approval to move the casino to its new US$1.4 billion Jeju Dream Tower, which opened without gaming in December.
Relocation would expand the company’s current gaming space by almost five times to more than 5,000 square meters and see its five gaming tables and 51 machines rise to 150 tables and 300 machines. A council hearing was held on the matter on 22 February, with Lotte Tour having previously stated its hope to open the new casino by 11 March.
Development of Jeju Dream Tower added significantly to Lotte Tour’s costs in 2020, with the company stating, “With the introduction of the Jeju Dream Tower Complex Resort in December of last year, operating and net losses increased due to an increase in initial costs and finance expenses.”
The tallest building in Jeju at 38 floors or 169 meters high, Jeju Dream Tower already features a retail mall, 14 restaurants and bars, an outdoor pool deck, top floor skydeck with lounge, two spas and a hotel.
The opening of Jeju Dream Tower in December came some 40 years after the 75-acre site upon which it sits was first purchased by Lotte Tour predecessor Dongwha Investment and Development Co Ltd in 1980. Excavation work began in 1984 but was halted due to lack of funding. The project was eventually resurrected in 2008 and construction resumed in May 2016 following alterations to the design.