October 22, 2016 08:08
More and more Koreans are happy to travel the world on their own as traditional collective values erode.
Last year some 206,000 people bought plane tickets or tours for one person from Korea's biggest travel agency Hana Tour last year, up nearly five-fold from 2011. At online travel agency Interpark Tour, the number of people who bought single airline tickets or tours increased an average of 54 percent annually from 2013 to 2015.
The number of single households nationwide reached 5.2 million last year, making them the biggest group of any households ahead of couples and the nuclear family.
Online shopping site G9 polled 966 users in July and found that 58 percent have traveled alone. Some 47 percent of respondents in their 20s and 30s said they wanted some time to themselves, and 42 percent of people in their 40s and over said traveling alone is more comfortable.
Japan was the most popular destination for single travelers, followed by Thailand, Hong Kong, Western Europe and the Philippines.
"As airline tickets to cities like Tokyo and Osaka are relatively cheap and they are good places for shopping and food, it's convenient to go there on your own," a Hana Tour staffer said.
Low-cost carrier Jin Air is offering solo travelers discounts on tickets for international flights to eight cities including Hong Kong, Osaka, Taiwan and Cebu to sell leftover seats.
But singles also holiday Korea on their own. "The change from traveling in groups to traveling independently and then to traveling alone is a global trend," said Prof. Lee Ki-jong at Kyunghee University. "And now that solo travel is becoming the norm, a lot of people no longer feel awkward about traveling alone."
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