Two-thousand-fourteen is the Year of the Horse
on the Chinese Zodiac, a period associated with power and a close relationship with nature.
Local governments in Korea are also aiming to use it to boost Korea’s horse industry
with the help of a new 500-million dollar eco-tourism project.
Paul Yi reports. Here on Korea’s western coast near the city of Hwaseong-si in Gyeonggi-do
Province, lies fields of untapped potential for the nation’s tourism and agricultural
industries. The fertile ground remains undeveloped with
no large factories or even residential areas in sight.
But the Gyeonggi-do Provincial Government has big plans for this newly reclaimed land. Officials say over 760 hectares will be dedicated
to creating a major development project called “Eco-Farmland,” which will combine livestock
farming, horseback riding and regional tourism. Some 520 million U.S. dollars in funding has
already been committed to cover project expenses through 2016, with a majority of that money
going toward investments in horse-related industries. Among the planned facilities include equestrian
venues, horse-riding academies and an animal hospital.
Other secondary businesses such as horse-race training and breeding will also be supported.
Gyeonggi-do hopes to capitalize on the rising popularity of horseback riding in Korea to
attract visitors. In addition, the region will be designated
a special industrial zone to promote agricultural research. “By merging the livestock and tourism industries,
we can create a new agro-tourism sector. We expect this field to play an important role
as a new growth engine for rural areas and development of the horse industry.” From leisure activities and sporting events
to scientific research, the Eco-Farmland venture plans to drive job creation for the region
as well as open a new era of eco-friendly tourism. Paul Yi, Arirang News