After the U.S. waived the visa requirement for South Korean tourists, and Seoul loosened controls on foreign investment, Koreatown was expected to take off. Instead, the Los Angeles Business Journal says reality set in:
The stronger dollar and persisting fears of the swine flu are throttling tourism. In fact, the number of visitors is down, not up. And the economic downturn, worse than expected, has pinched the flow of South Korean money to Los Angeles.
Koreatown is the largest Korean community outside of Korea and any visitor there can see the effect. Restaurants that serve Korean barbecue are advertising half-off lunch specials and all-you-can eat buffets, while businesses that cater to tourists are reporting falling revenue.
But the most dramatic sign of a slowdown in the 7-square-mile area west of downtown is an epidemic of shuttered storefronts.
Hey, and in a couple of months the sidewalks will undergo an infusion of children and teens from the schools built ion the former Ambassador Hotel site.