Non-landing International Flight Programs
As the Korean government aims to enable local carriers to start offering no-landing international flight services, Air Busan operated two non-landing international flights in December 2020. According to the Korea Airports Corporation, 197 people and 182 people boarded on the 19th and 25th, respectively, recording an average occupancy rate of more than 90 percent. As December flights proved the possibility by recording high occupancy rate, Air Busan actively promotes non-landing scenic flights to overcome the COVID-19 pandemic.
In addition, Asiana Airlines will resume “A380, One-Day Overseas Travel” which allows duty-free goods to be purchased. Also, Jeju Air launched flight programs that depart from Incheon and pass-through Fukuoka before heading back to Incheon. (*Source: Travel Times)
The monthly search volume of “non-landing tourism flight” was zero until October 2020. However, after the domestic airlines launched the related tour products, the monthly search volume rose to 2,580 in November. The volume rapidly increased to 9,370 and 9,940 in December and January, respectively, amid the growing interests of consumers. (*Source: Naver)
‘Workcation (Work+Vacation)’ package is recently booming among 4-5 stars hotels in Korea. Glad Hotels &Resorts, for example, introduced the “Work Space” package for office workers who work from home, which allows visitors to stay for 11 hours from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Likewise, L’Escape Hotel presented “Half-day Stay”, check in at 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on the same day.
According to a survey commissioned by Airbnb, 61% of Korean respondents said they are willing to try “Workcation” where they work elsewhere and enjoy a vacation-like atmosphere. The survey was conducted online for 1,010 Koreans. In another recent survey by Expedia group of 200 members (20s to 30s), about 21% of respondents said that they booked a hotel to have a ‘workcation’. (*Source: Airbnb, Expedia Group, Hankook-ilbo)
Consumers’ interest in ‘Staycation’ at hotel is now greater than before the COVID-19 crisis. The monthly search volume of ‘Staycation’ rose from 49,560 to 73,400 in December compared to January last year. As ‘Staycation’ is becoming popular among domestic travelers, hotels in Korea are striving to attract customers with more creative and diverse strategies. (*Source: Naver)
BREAKING NEWS: $9 Million Worth Tickets for Vietnam Tour Package Sold via Televised Home Shopping
South Korean travel agency Interpark Tour sold over 10 billion won ($9.07million) in tickets for a Vietnam tour package in pent-up demand for overseas travel once the pandemic eases.
Interpark Tour, on Jan 22, aired a 70-minute TV ad for its three-night Vietnam travel package including a stay at five-star Novotel in Danang and Phu Quoc. According to Interpark Tour, the bargain deal raked in sales of 1.5 billion won, and when including additional expenses including flight tickets, total revenue is estimated to reach 10 billion won.
The travel package is valid for one year from the point when borders between Korea and Vietnam open and overseas traveling become possible. Furthermore, the package was 100 percent refundable within a month from airing. It can also be transferred to another person or the reservations changed to a hotel in Korea should traveling abroad be made difficult due to the spread of Covid-19. (*Source: Maeil Business News Korea)
Domestic Travel Platform Brands Ranked the Top of the List
According to a survey by Consumer Insight, Yanolja ranked first for four consecutive years as an online travel product platform that consumers have used within the past year. Yanolja recorded the experience rate of 17%, 1.8 % up from last year, followed by Good Choice (12%), and Naver (11.2%). There is a 5.8%p gap with Yanolja, but considering its 3.4%p increase this year, Naver is likely to hit the leader board soon.
On the other hand, global travel platforms have been enduring hard times due to a sharp drop in overseas airline tickets and hotel reservations. Agoda, the 2nd place ranker last year, fell below 10% and stayed in 4th place. Skyscanner, which ranked the 3rd, fell 3.8%p from the previous year to 6.7%, pushed down to 7th place. Due to the nature of platform featuring its strengths in booking tickets, Skyscanner was hit directly by the shrink in travel. Other than those brands, overseas brands such as Airbnb, Hotels.com, Hotels Combined, and Booking.com ranked within the top 9 brands (*Source: Consumer Insight)
Incheon International Airport Corp. announced the results of a survey of 2,873 people including local Koreans and foreigners on the ‘COVID-19’ air travel trend. In the survey, 39.7% of Koreans answered that they have plans to travel abroad in 2021.
For preferred travel destinations, 63.7% of Korean travelers selected overseas in 2019 prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, however in 2020, only 12.1% of Korean travelers chose overseas. In 2021, 43.8% of Korean travelers picked overseas as their preferred travel destination, indicating that desire to travel is on the rise.
The reason for choosing to travel abroad (in other countries), 43.0% of Koreans said “exploring new destinations” in 2019, but 55.0% said “for postponed work/business trips” in 2020, which was ranked the highest and 45.7% said “exploring new destinations” in 2021. (*Source: Travel Daily, Incheon International Airport Corp.)
How Korean Travelers do Satisfy the Wanderlust Amid Pandemic
When the globe took a much-needed pause due to the prolonged COVID-19, how are domestic travelers relieving their desire to travel abroad?
It turned out Korean travelers are heavily relying on social media. According to Digital Travel Trend Survey in the post-COVID-19 era of Seoul Tourism Organization last year by 2,784 respondents, “Looking through pictures from the past” (49.7%) ranked first on the question ‘How do you satisfy your wanderlust amid pandemic’, followed by “Watching Travel Videos on YouTube” (38.2%), and “Finding travel photos on Social Media” (33.6%).
In addition, the type of digital content that stimulates the desire to travel the most was “Landscape video” while “video featuring influencers” ranked second. In addition, when asked whether such digital travel experiences could lead to actual travel experiences, most respondents said “Yes”. (*Source: Seoul Tourism Organization)
Expression of a Strong Desire for Travel
According to the Korea Tourism Organization’s analysis of YouTube content keywords, the share of keywords related to overseas travel and travel information sharing fell 12% year-over-year among all travel-related keywords in 2020. Instead, the share of keywords related to the introduction of tourist attractions in Korea increased by 6%, and new forms of travel such as virtual travel also increased. As the international travel has become difficult since the widespread of COVID-19, the travel industry, including the Tourism Board, is stepping up efforts to promote travel destinations with “Virtual Travel.”
As there is a resurgence of covid-19, domestic travel was also restricted, yet the desire for travel was steadily rising. The number of videos related to online travel and travel at home on YouTube and the average number of likes increased 21% and 57%, respectively, compared to the same period in the previous year. It can be seen as an expression of a strong desire to travel while reminiscing the time of quarantine-free travel before COVID-19. (*Source: Seoul Tourism Organization, Aju News, Some Trend)
In fact, keywords for #virtualtravel, #untacttravel, and #travelathome have become a rising trend in Korea, and a considerable number of contents are created every month on Instagram.
On Naver, South Korea’s No.1 search engine, monthly search volume of ‘International travel’ has recorded 6,840 for PC and 23,900 for MB, totaling 30,740 in December 2020. Naver Keyword Planner forecasts the search volume of ‘International travel’ will be 34,500 in January 2021, a 15% increase compared to last December. The number of blog posts have reached 7,744 in December 2020. (*Source: Naver)