The 2018 Winter Olympics are less than a month away now, with the opening ceremonies scheduled for February 9th in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Officials are concerned, though, because ticket sales are nowhere near where they’d hoped they’d be this close to the games.
It’s no secret that South Korea has been struggling to find ticket buyers. It seems that the local market has been particularly difficult this season. As of mid-December, ticket sales were only at about 55% of the target officials had hoped for. Regarding numbers, ticket sales were right at approximately 587,000.
South Korea had hoped that hosting the Winter Olympics would bring new economic growth to the region. They were also hoping to put Pyeongchang on the map for foreign visitors as the premier destination in Asia for winter sports.
One rather obvious theory as to the low ticket sales is military in nature. Increased tensions with North Korea, barely 60 miles from Pyeongchang, likely have residents from all nations concerned with their own personal safety. Many nations’ officials, including France’s sports minister, have stated that they are considering not attending the games altogether if security cannot be guaranteed.
Furthermore, recent business and political turmoil in South Korea have tainted the event, and many corporations that could normally be counted on for large ticket purchases have not committed. Officials have had a hard time convincing people that a trip to Pyeongchang is worth it. The area isn’t thought of as a great tourist destination, and again, the proximity to and safety concerns with North Korea have folks erring on the side of caution.
The organizing committee for the 2018 Winter Olympics is hoping that tickets will pick up over the next several weeks as we draw closer to the opening ceremonies. School groups and businesses have already begun to increase their ticket sales. But even if South Korea does manage to sell all of the tickets, it’s no guarantee that the stadiums will be full when the games begin.
One benefit of low ticket sales is that if you’re considering making a trip to Pyeongchang to see the Winter Olympic Games for yourself, you can still find some really exclusive packages, which would normally have been sold out by now.