After spending two years socially isolated in her native South Korea, Kim Hoe-jun booked a last-minute flight to Hawaii, where she had enjoyed her honeymoon six years ago, giving in to her desire to travel abroad.
“I bought the ticket just a week ago, but it was kind of ridiculous. It felt like I redeemed two years of not being able to go abroad as often as I did before COVID,” he said, before boarding the plane. plane from Incheon International Airport on Friday.
Vaccinated and encouraged, Kim and his wife were among South Koreans joining the rush for a “revenge trip” – a term that has become popular now on social media as people scramble to book trips abroad delayed by coronavirus restrictions.
The blast began after March 21 when South Korea lifted a seven -day mandatory quarantine for fully vaccinated travelers arriving from most countries. The restrictions were relaxed last year but were re -implemented in December when the highly contagious Omicron variant spread.
The country has largely canceled its previously aggressive detection and containment efforts despite a record COVID-19 wave, joining a growing list of Asian countries that have relaxed quarantine rules, including Singapore, Japan, Australia and New Zealand.
Koreans now seem more willing to travel. Surveys show people are less concerned about the implications of a viral infection, and are increasingly seeing its prevention out of their hands.
Overseas flight ticket sales on the 11th, the e-commerce unit of SK Telecom Co Ltd, South Korea’s leading mobile airline, increased more than eight-fold from the previous year between March 11, when the quarantine withdrawal was announced, and March 27, the company said.
Kim Na-yeon, 27, is excited to return to Hawaii where she once lived.
“I don’t dare travel even in Korea because of COVID,” he said. “But now I feel more free with that exception, so I’ve decided to go see an old friend and go for a walk.”
Airlines and travel agencies have reported exploding demand for routes to Hawaii, Saipan and Guam, as well as several destinations in Europe and Southeast Asia where tourists who submit vaccination certificates or negative test results are exempt from quarantine.
Saipan and Guam, both of which have travel bubble alliances with South Korea, also offer free COVID testing and pay quarantine expenses if a traveler is confirmed positive. Every South Korean who visits Saipan even receives a “travel money” incentive of $ 100 to spend on business there.
The online retail travel giant Interpark Corp. reported 324% growth in flight bookings for Oceania between March 11-22 from the same period of 2021, a 268% increase for Southeast Asia and another 262% in bookings for Europe.
On Sunday, the company sold a record 5,200 Hawaii tour packages in just 70 minutes. CJ Corp’s in-house shopping unit said it received about 2,800 bookings for travel to Spain and Italy in an hour on Sunday, totaling 15 billion won ($ 12.41 million), days after earning 9 billion won from Hawaiian package sales.
“The surge reflects growing customer sentiment that the termination of COVID’s travel restrictions is likely to occur after mandatory quarantine is lifted,” said Lee Jeong-pil, general manager of the shopping unit at CJ’s home.
Lee Tae-woo, a 36-year-old who regularly travels to Japan, said he had converted a sum of money into yen, taking advantage of the currency’s sharp depreciation and hoped to continue his revenge journey soon.
While Japan has yet to allow tourists to re -enter, it has reduced the quarantine period for arrivals for business and other purposes to three days from these seven months, and marks a further reduction in travel restrictions.
“It’s been a long wait, and I’m ready to go back as soon as they finally reopen, and visit my favorite coffee grill shop and enjoy the night view from Shibuya station,” Lee said, referring to Tokyo’s busy central district.