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Friday, December 09, 2022

South Koreans flock overseas for ‘Revenge Travel’ as COVID rules ease

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After spending two years socially in his home country, South Korea, Kim Hoe-jun booked a last-minute flight to Hawaii, where he enjoyed his honeymoon six years ago and indulged in his craving for overseas travel .

“I bought the ticket just a week ago, but it was rather a no-brainer. It felt like I was making up for those two years that could not go abroad as often as before COVID,” he said. before I boarded. the plane from Incheon International Airport on Friday.

Vaccinated and fortified, Kim and his wife are one of South Koreans taking part in a ‘revenge travel’ rush – a term that has become a trend on social media as people scramble to discuss overseas travel delayed by coronavirus restrictions is.

The boom began after March 21, when South Korea lifted a seven-day mandatory quarantine for fully vaccinated travelers arriving from most countries. The restriction was eased last year, but was reintroduced in December as the highly contagious Omicron variant spread.

The country has largely scrapped its once-aggressive detection and restraint efforts despite a record COVID-19 wave, joining a growing list of Asian countries that have eased quarantine rules, including Singapore, Japan, Australia and New Zealand.

Koreans now seem more ready to travel. Opinion polls have shown that people are less concerned about the implications of contracting the virus, and increasingly see its prevention as out of their hands.

Sales of overseas airline tickets on March 11, an e-commerce unit of SK Telecom, South Korea’s leading mobile service provider, increased more than eight times compared to a year earlier between March 11, when the lifting of quarantine was announced , and March 27, the company said.

Kim Na-yeon, 27, was excited to return to Hawaii, where she lived.

“I could not dare to travel even in Korea because of COVID,” she said. “But now I feel a little freer with the release, so I decided to go meet old friends and do some sightseeing.”

Exploding question

Airlines and travel agencies have reported an exploding demand for routes to Hawaii, Saipan and Guam, as well as some destinations in Europe and Southeast Asia where tourists who submit a vaccination certificate or negative test result are exempt from quarantine.

Saipan and Guam, which both have travel bubble agreements with South Korea, also offer free COVID tests and pay for quarantine expenses as a traveler positive test. Every South Korean citizen who visits Saipan receives $ 100 in “travel money” to spend with businesses there.

The tour arm of online retail giant Interpark reported a 324% growth in flight bookings for Oceania between 11-22 March from the same period of 2021, a 268% increase for Southeast Asia and 262% more bookings for Europe.

The company sold a record 5,200 Hawaii tour packages in 70 minutes on Sunday. CJ Corp.’s home shopping unit said on Sunday it received about 2,800 orders for a one-hour trip to Spain and Italy, a total of 15 billion won ($ 12.41 million), days after it won 9 billion ($ 7 , 4 million) from its sales of a Hawaii package.

Lee Jeong-pil, general manager of CJ’s home shopping unit, said: “The surge reflects growing customer sentiment that an end to COVID travel limits may be in sight after the mandatory quarantine is lifted.

Lee Tae-woo, a 36-year-old regular traveler to Japan, said he had turned some money into yen, taking advantage of the currency’s sharp drop and hoping to jump on the revenge bandwagon soon.

Although Japan has not yet allowed tourists again, it has reduced the quarantine period for arrivals for business and other purposes from seven this month to three days and indicated the further easing of travel limits.

“It’s been a long wait, and I’m ready to go back as soon as they finally reopen and visit my favorite coffee shop and enjoy the night view from Shibuya Station,” Lee said, referring to Tokyo’s busy central district.

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