April 23, 2020 12:22
Demand for holiday accommodation in scenic Gangwon Province and Jeju Island is increasing for the long weekend between Buddha's Birthday on April 30 and Children's Day on May 5.
Air tickets to Jeju are already over 80 percent booked and hotel rooms and resorts there are becoming scarce.
Many city dwellers are making travel plans for the long weekend to free themselves from the protracted coronavirus lockdown.
On April 15, Asiana Airlines increased weekly flights between Gimpo and Jeju from 138 to 187, returning to almost normal operations on the route. When demand increased, the carrier put aircraft that had been grounded on international flights on the Jeju route instead.
Budget carriers are also increasing flights to Jeju. Just two weeks ago there were only 495 Gimpo-Jeju flights, but the surge in demand increased them to 616 this week.
The average booking rate for 117 one-way flights on the seven domestic airlines from Gimpo to Jeju for April 30 has crossed 80 percent, and industry insiders expect that will rise to over 90 percent.
Demand for hotel rooms is also surging in tourist destinations, and it is particularly hard to find vacant rooms in Gangwon Province or Seogwipo on Jeju Island.
Moon Jeong-hee (40), who runs a guesthouse in Jeju, is busy preparing for a resurgence. Fifteen of her 20 rooms are already booked. "I hope the tourism market of the resort city that has been depressed by the coronavirus outbreak will recover," Moon said. "We'll make sure to disinfect the rooms so that guests can have a safe break."
Other public transportation is also seeing a resurgence. According to KORAIL on Wednesday, 83,631 passengers a day traveled by KTX bullet train last weekend, compared to 42,661 in the last weekend of February, when infections surged here.
But Jeju authorities are worried about a second wave of infections on the resort island and say they will check all arrivals thoroughly. The provincial government will deploy more personnel and equipment to screen arrivals at the airport, and 29 tourist hotspots are to stay closed.
Hospitality companies are preparing to make quarantine efforts on their own. Hanwha Resort will let guests check in at different times rather than all at once at 3 p.m. to keep them apart as much as possible.
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