September 23, 2021 09:13
A growing number of Koreans are planning for overseas travel again as vaccinations pick up and restrictions are being dropped in some countries.
This year's Chuseok was a damp squib at home as Korea remains in lockdown, but some destinations promised greater freedoms.
One group of about 60 travelers left Incheon International Airport for Guam for a five-day trip on the morning of Sept. 18, the first day of the Chuseok holiday. It was officially the first group package tour in a year and a half.
According to Incheon International Airport Corporation on Wednesday, a total of 31,545 travelers left for overseas destinations over Chuseok, a daily average of 5,258 and nearly double the number during the same period last year.
Many were in their 50s and 60s and therefore already fully vaccinated. A 66-year-old man and his wife who got their second jab last month left for France on Sept. 16, took a tour of Switzerland, and are now in Paris. "Many European countries have lifted the travel ban and fully vaccinated people are no longer required to spend a couple of weeks in self-isolation on return," he said.
But even younger people are sniffing the air. One 35-year-old staffer of a big company who has booked his second dose for early next month already bought a plane ticket to London for late next month.
"The company wouldn't prevent me from taking a trip overseas, but I'm keeping my plan from my employer because it insists on overseas travelers staying home in self-isolation when they come back even if they're vaccinated."
Big tour operators are pleased. Hana Tour, Korea's largest, will call all of its staff back to work next month, a year and a half after it placed them on paid or unpaid leave. A Hana spokesman said, "We expect overseas travel to get back to normal by the end of the year."
- Copyright © Chosunilbo & Chosun.com