[EDITORIALS]A beneficial developmentIf someone went abroad to play golf when the economy is worse than now, people would begin criticizing that person. People seldom give a second thought to why well-to-do people go abroad to play golf. They do so because it costs less for them to play at golf courses overseas, even when the expense of air travel is included. In this free world, no one can stop them from going overseas. There is only one solution. It will happen if the cost of playing golf at home is made less expensive. Only then, money for playing golf overseas will not flow out of the country and golf-related jobs will be created in Korea.
As golf was viewed as a sport for wealthy people, social antipathy against the construction of golf courses had been strong. A high special consumption tax had been levied on golfing and golf courses, and the property tax on golf courses was much higher than on other properties. It is estimated that more than 100,000 Korean tourists went abroad last year taking their golf clubs with them.
For a country with less than rich historical relics and natural scenic spots, service and leisure industries are the most important sectors that will provide a source of income in the long run. We have to anticipate and prepare for the time when the tourism rush starts in China. It is desirable, therefore, that the construction of golf courses be liberalized to induce visitors for leisure and tourism.
At the moment, large portions of Korea’s grasslands are not properly utilized. It takes about three years to complete an 18-hole golf course. During the construction period, some 250-300 jobs are created per day and after completion of the course, there would be 165 to 200 jobs at each golf course. It means that when golf courses are constructed on a piece of land that had been unused, it would have the positive effect of prompting wealthy people and foreign tourists to open their purses, and creating jobs.
There are a few things we have to note. First, construction of golf courses should be promoted, in the bigger frame of service and leisure industry development, under a comprehensive plan for national land use and regional development. The courses should be located where damage to the ecosystem can be minimized, and built in an environmentally friendly way. We expect the government to lead the project with concrete ideas, rather than such empty words as “the hub of Northeast Asia.”