As a well-known political talk radio host likes to say: Folks, I’m not
making this stuff up. And in my case, I’m really not making this
stuff up. At least, not the following press release, which I received
on Sept 14:
• • • a large pastime in the U.S., it is losing its grip
North Korea follows South Korea’s lead on becoming the Golf Mecca of the World.
in golf domination!!! • • •
Recently, South Korean land developer Uni- Sept. 15, 2006, in the Palace of the Party
co won a contract to build a fan- Leadership, Pyongyang:
tastic golf course in North Korea. Kim Jong Il: Like the Party it-
The golf course will have 36 holes self, our golf courses should play
in Kaesong. It will cost $40 million a mobilizing role in each stage of
to build. North Korea’s interest in revolutionary struggle and tour-
promoting golf is increasing as the ism development.
quality of their golf courses flourish. Peoples Tourism Minister: Yes,
There is a well-known golf course Dear Leader.
located on an island in the middle Kim Jong Il: Our glorious rev-
of Pyongyang, North Korea. This Arnie Weissmann olutionary tradition, born as we
golf course is complete with bun- Editor in Chief threw off the yoke of Japanese im-
kers, sand traps and water hazards. perialist colonial rule, shall inspire
North Korea has opened the country to allow the operation of the course in Kaesong.
international tourism and visitation to its golf Peoples Tourism Minister: Of course,
courses. Golf is another added benefit of visit- Dear Leader. Now, about the Japanese …
ing the Korean peninsula. While golf has been Kim Jong Il: As my father, Great Leader
Kim Il-Sung, wrote in the immortal classic
“Sea of Blood,” the struggle of the Righteous Volunteers Army against the Japanese
Kim Jong Il: The British! They are nothing but lapdogs to the running dogs!
Peoples Tourism Minister: I’m having
difficultly with that imagery, Dear Leader.
Peoples Tourism Minister: Excuse the
interruption, Dear Leader, but the World
Travel and Tourism Council Blueprint for
Sustainable Tourism in North Korea reports
that the Japanese will likely be our most enthusiastic golf visitors.
Kim Jong Il: Show me the design of the
Peoples Tourism Minister: The water
hazards are over here …
Kim Jong Il: Hazards?
Kim Jong Il: The Japanese! Impossible! I
forbid it! Surely there are other golf-loving
nations we can appeal to.
Peoples Tourism Minister: Yes, besides
the sand traps.
Kim Jong Il: Traps?
Peoples Tourism Minister: Well, according to the U.N. World Tourism Organization’s North Korean Tourism Barometer,
golf is the largest pastime for the Americans.
America is the Golf Mecca of the world,
Dear Leader, although UNWTO thinks we
can loosen its grip.
Peoples Tourism Minister: Parallel to the
Kim Jong Il: Bunkers?
Peoples Tourism Minister: Dear Leader!
There’s that look in your eye again!
Kim Jong Il: Forget the golf course. What
was the second recommendation of the
Kim Jong Il: Americans! Against whom we
fought the Fatherland
FROM THE WINDOW SEAT
Liberation War? Never!
Peoples Tourism Minister: We’re running out of options, Dear Leader. Of course,
the European Tour Operators Association
White Paper on Green Tourism in North
Korea feels the British may have some interest in playing golf here.
Peoples Committee on the Development
of Tourism and Nuclear Energy? The one
marked “Plan B”?
E-mail Arnie Weissmann at aweissmann@
Forecast: Robust levels for occupancy, RevPAR
The national hotel occupancy
average is projected to hit
64.2% this year, the highest
occupancy average in a decade, according to a new forecast by PricewaterhouseCoopers.
Over the past 12 months, the occupancy
average has been at 63.7%; the average occupancy typically doesn’t push past 59% or
60%. The higher-than-average occupancy is
expected to bolster RevPAR, a key economic indicator for hotels, by 8.7%, the highest
level since 1980, when RevPAR rose 12.6%.
The firm’s research indicates that in 12
major city markets RevPAR is expected to
grow from 4.7% to 9% next year.
The projected increase in RevPAR and
the increase in occupancy are both good
news for the hotel industry, which has been
riding high for several years.
“The lodging industry continues to benefit from a surprisingly slow rate of supply
TELEPHONE REVENUE GROWTH - 2000 TO 2005
Year Telephone revenue* Telephone revenue* Growth in U.S. Full service Limited service wireless subscribers
20.7% 17.8% 27.2%
NATIONAL OCCUPANCY AVERAGE*
Six-year compound growth - 14.5% - 17.8%
* Per occupied room
Source: Smith Travel Research and Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association
growth for this phase of the cycle and a robust economy that, despite higher energy
prices, is supporting growth in personal
consumption expenditures,” said PWC’s
Bjorn Hanson. “At the same time, inflationary pressures allow hoteliers to exercise double-digit increases in room rates in
many lodging markets.”
Still, robust occupancies and RevPAR
notwithstanding, PWC is forecasting an
eventual slowdown due to a rise in room
supply and a softening in demand.
That is expected to begin next year as the
overall economy loses some steam due to a
projected weakening of the housing market,
higher interest rates and energy costs. As a
result, the national hotel occupancy average is expected to inch up only slightly, to
64.3%, in 2007.
One place where hotels are earning less is
on telephone service.
The growing popularity of wireless
phones and other communication devices
has resulted in a 16% decline, compounded
annually, since 2000 in the revenues derived
from telecommunications services.
PWC found that the telecom revenue
earnings per occupied room dropped from
$4.96 in 2000 to $2.26 in 2005.
To compensate, hotels have tacked on fees
and surcharges, which over the past six years
have compounded the decline in revenue by
as much as 14.5% in full-service hotels and
17.8% in their limited-service counterparts.