SEOUL — The U.S. military will close its small resort facility on Cheju Island this month, part of its larger effort to consolidate installations throughout South Korea, officials announced Friday.

Camp MacNab, which has been used as a religious retreat, training center and resort for more than 20 years, will close March 21, according to a U.S. Forces Korea news release. The resort’s nine acres will be returned to the South Korean government.

The closure is part of the larger effort at realigning U.S. forces on the peninsula. In testimony last week before the Senate Armed Services Committee, USFK commander Gen. Leon J. LaPorte noted that six 2nd Infantry Division camps were closed in the first quarter of 2005, with eight more to be closed by the end of the year.

By 2008, 35 camps will be closed and returned to the South Koreans, he said.

Cheju, just south of mainland South Korea and an hour’s flight from Seoul, is known as one of the most popular vacation spots in the country. Tourists visit for the beaches, jagged mountains and waterfalls. In recent years, it’s become a popular regional vacation spot, with direct flights from Japan and Taiwan.

“The United Services Organization, better known as the USO, has worked with tourist agencies and hotels located on Cheju Island to provide a discounted tour package for USFK personnel desiring to visit the island,” the USFK release read.

In years past, the U.S. military would hold events such as the “Cheju-do Challenge,” a race of military squads to test their mountaineering skills. The test was the culmination of a one-week confidence and teamwork course conducted on Camp MacNab training grounds.

MacNab was also used as a religious retreat, and Morale, Welfare and Recreation offices have offered rest and relaxation trips.

The U.S. military operates similar reduced-cost resorts for servicemembers throughout the world, including a beach resort in Hawaii and a ski retreat in Germany.

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