Korea Tourism Organization (KTO) announced 2021 domestic travel trends with the acronym BETWEEN, reflecting to the changes in the tourism industry sparked by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Since the emergence of COVID-19, the movement of sharing travel information and introducing travel content has dramatically declined. In particular, the report of keyword analysis for YouTube content shows that keywords related to domestic travel attractions have increased by 6%, while the share of keywords related to overseas travel have decreased by 12% compared to the previous year. In addition, mentions on the new forms of travel, such as “LAN cable traveling”, have increased. Therefore, this year is expected to be a crisis in the existing travel industry and a starting point for demand for new travel types.
Recently, interest in small trips for wellness has increased. Though the keywords – including contactless and camping – have been on the rise over the past three years, there was a sharp increase in comparison with the year before. The KTO interpreted that such a trip could be a way to overcome the anxiety and depression during the pandemic.
Short-term trips for visiting famous cafes and shopping are gaining popularity. Analysis of data gathered by mobile carriers showed a significant increase in movement to nearby regions, creating a new and single tourist area. Following this trend, it is predicted that networks between neighboring regions will further integrate those regions in the future.
Along with the interest in domestic tourism in Korea, demand for new and unique destinations has increased. An analysis on travel-related YouTube videos showed that the number of people mentioning ‘islands’ and ‘small cities’ has increased, wishing to travel to non-crowded areas while spending time alone.
Demand for travel with the closest people, including family, couples, and friends, has increased. According to the comment analysis for travel-related posts on social media, it is found that users tend to think of their family, friends, and pets when watching travel videos.
Meanwhile, mentions of package tours declined year-on-year. The decrease was interpreted as reflecting the anxiety of people traveling with an unspecified majority.
Although the COVID-19 pandemic has made it difficult to travel, data shows that potential demand for traveling continues to exist. The number of videos related to “LAN cable traveling” (or ‘virtual traveling’) on YouTube and the average number of “likes” increased by 21% and 57%, respectively, compared to the previous year. This is interpreted that people are reminiscing about past travel before the pandemic and expressing a potential desire for travel.
As the COVID-19 pandemic has changed our lives, new ways of travel are drawing attention this year. With the implementation of telecommuting, the constraints on workspace have disappeared, and interest in travel types that are different from everyday life has risen.
Furthermore, alternative products are being planned to make people feel as if they were traveling. In fact, keywords such as “working from hotel”, “staycation”, and “non-landing travel” mentioned on social media and community websites increased by more than 240% compared to the year before.
Source: KTO (Korea Tourism Organization)
According to a survey conducted on 2,000 men and women in their 20-50s in Korea in January 2021, the staycation trend (a.k.a “Hocance”) is showing great popularity as the COVID-19 pandemic prolongs. “Hocance” is a compound word of hotel and vacance, meaning a way to spend vacation in a hotel room. Recently, various kinds of Hocance, such as “Eatcance” (Eatcation), “Bookcance” (Bookcation), “Petcance” (Petcation), and “Workcance” (Workcation), combined with personal hobbies and tastes, are also emerging.
Among various Hocance themes, most respondents picked “Eatcance” (Eatcation) to enjoy delicious food (78%), followed by “Poolcance” (Poolcation), to enjoy a swimming pool or sauna (63.5%). In addition, 4 out of 10 people in their 20s chose “Netcance” (Netcation) to enjoy video content through OTT service at the hotel, and those in their 30-40s, chose a staycation with their children. To put together, it confirms that each generation wish for different themes of travel.
The most important factor Koreans consider when booking a hotel is found to be the room condition (view, interior, and bedding) (52.9%). Prices ranked the second, followed by facilities and sanitation. Additionally, most respondents answered that they placed a hotel reservation at least two weeks to a month in advance, and the average hotel stay was two nights (50%) and one night (33.2%).
According to big data analysis conducted by Tourvis, 96.2% of hotel guests booked a 4-star or higher hotel, reflecting the expectation that high-end hotels will be well equipped with outstanding service as well as quarantine facility available.
Source: HotelsCombined, Tourvis, TTL News
According to a survey conducted by Consumer Insight, Koreans’ interest level in overseas travel, which has fallen by half since the COVID-19 outbreak, is gradually recovering from the lowest point.
Comparing last January (right before COVID-19 spread) with the last December of 2020, the level of interest differed by country/region depending on the coronavirus situation. While the level of interest in travel to the South Pacific, a clean and leisure destination, declined by 13%p, Europe and the United States/Canada, where the number of infections surged, declined by 19%p and 16%p, respectively. Hong Kong/Macau approached its pre-COVID-19 level due to the establishment of a quarantine system and discussions on travel bubbles. Japan was the only country with a higher level of interest compared to last January, as if the ‘Boycott Japan’ movement had halted.
Source: Consumer Insight
From July to August in 2020, the number of reservations for 4 nights or more increased by 70% compared to 2019.
Good Choice Company, a Korean accommodation booking service platform, announced that the number of booking for more than 4 nights from last July to August has increased by 70% compared to 2019. Considering that the overall domestic travel demand increased by 35% during the same period, it can be interpreted that the number of long-term travelers has grown significantly. As long-term stays emerged as an alternative to overseas travel among Korean travelers, it seems that they are replacing overseas travel amid the pandemic.
Moreover, according to a survey conducted by Consumer Insight, the travel period considered by Korean travelers planning overseas travel is increasing as well. The number of travelers planning more than 5 nights has grown from 35.1% to 41.5% compared to 2019. Among them, the number of respondents planning trips longer than 15 nights has increased from 3.8% to 5.7%.
Source: Good Choice Company, Consumer Insight
Based on a survey result reported by Consumer Insight, the percentage of people planning to travel abroad in 2 to 4 months is higher than in 2019. In the second quarter of 2020 when the total number of COVID-19 infections was less than 3,000, in particular, 55.6% of respondents said they were planning to travel abroad within two months, while the rate of respondents who are planning trips after four months sharply dropped from 30.8 percent to 0.3 percent compared to the first quarter.
However, as the number of cases has soared since the third quarter, delaying overseas trip plans. Although the number of people planning to travel abroad has declined compared to 2019 amid the pandemic, the findings of survey above indicate that desire for travel is potentially present and steadily increasing.
In fact, travel demand in Korea is starting to rebound. According to the Jeju Tourism Organization, 150,000 people visited Jeju Island during the Lunar New Year holidays. Also, overseas travel products are resuming sales on the home shopping channel. As the Korean government decided on the Feb 13 to lower the social distancing level, travel demand is expected to increase further.
Source: Consumer Insight, JTO (Jeju Tourism Board)