July 19, 2014 08:23
A growing number of younger Koreans are opening B&Bs in Seoul, although they have traditionally been a stuffy reserve of the retired.
A six-person room in a guesthouse usually costs W20,000 and W30,000 for a room, and a double with breakfast between W50,000 and W90,000 (US$1=W1,030).
According to the Seoul Metropolitan Government, 33.5 percent of the 155 B&Bs that opened in the capital between 2013 and 2014 are run by people in their 20s and 30s. People in their 40s account for 20.6 percent, those in their 50 for 26.5 percent and over-60s for 18.7 percent.
Between 2004 and 2011, when B&Bs were in their incipient stages here, most owners were in their 40s and over.
But now younger Koreans are opening B&Bs because they can communicate better with foreigners looking for affordable lodgings and because they can use the Internet to promote their spare rooms.
Kim Dong-ki (39), who opened a B&B in Mapo in northwestern Seoul in January of this year, has been to 44 countries over the last 15 years. "I dreamed about opening up my own B&B as I traveled abroad. I speak English and Spanish so I have no problems communicating with guests," he said.
Internet savvy is also a plus, because foreigners usually look through the web to find accommodation. Some 81 percent of foreigners using B&Bs in Korea booked on the Internet on sites like Airbnb, while only 19 percent go through travel agents.
The business is expanding quickly. In late 2012, there were only 185 B&Bs in Seoul. A year later, the number had grown to 366, reaching 480 at present.
Among the 10 million tourists who visited Korea last year, 17.7 percent stayed in B&Bs while just 13.3 percent opted for big anonymous hotels.
The city government estimates that there are 400 unregistered B&Bs operating in the capital, in addition to the 480 that have a license.
One Seoul city official said, "The business is growing more popular among people in their 20s and 30s, but not everyone ends up making money. You need to do some thorough research before getting started."
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