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Koreans rediscovered travel closer to home this summer

Seen is Candlestick Rock in Donghae, Gangwon Province. Donghae was among the most popular destinations for Korean tourists this summer, along with Hongcheon, Yangyang and Sokcho in the same province, and Yangpyeong in Gyeonggi Province. / gettyimagesbank
Seen is Candlestick Rock in Donghae, Gangwon Province. Donghae was among the most popular destinations for Korean tourists this summer, along with Hongcheon, Yangyang and Sokcho in the same province, and Yangpyeong in Gyeonggi Province. / gettyimagesbank

Distance traveled decreased 69% year-on-year

By Jun Ji-hye

People's travel patterns have changed drastically this year amid the prolonged COVID-19 pandemic, as lockdowns imposed to halt the spread of the coronavirus have made overseas travel much more difficult.

But travelers have been given the opportunity to explore locations closer to home, allowing them to discover local hidden gems and realize the happiness travel brings cannot be measured in kilometers.

Booking.com, one of the big-name online travel services, said its data revealed that the average distance Koreans traveled between June and August was down 69 percent from a year earlier, which was in line with the global average of 63 percent.

The June-August period is usually the summer vacation season in Korea.

About 89 percent of the total distance travelled by Koreans during the period was within Korea, compared to only 11 percent during the same period last year.

Beaches and nature escapes topped the list of popular destinations booked by Korean tourists, as many have been seeking safe travel opportunities in less-crowded destinations.

The most popular destinations this summer were Hongcheon, Yangyang, Donghae and Sokcho in Gangwon Province, and Yangpyeong in Gyeonggi Province.

Green lotus flower field at Dumulmeori in Yangpyeong / gettyimagesbank
Green lotus flower field at Dumulmeori in Yangpyeong / gettyimagesbank

New trend

"Contactless tourism" has become a new trend amid the pandemic, with a recent rise in the popularity of road and camping trip destinations showing the shift in travel patterns.

When looking back at the end of 2019, before people knew that their 2020 travel plans would be altered by the pandemic, only 12 percent of Koreans were intending to take a road trip, and 18 percent hoped to take a camping trip.

While enjoying road trips or camping trips, many Koreans have rediscovered the charm of the country.

When it comes to accommodation types, holiday homes were the most favored choice, followed by hotels.

Gangwon rather than Bali

In the survey conducted by Booking.com at the end of 2019, 51 percent of Korean respondents said they were dreaming of visiting beautiful beaches for their 2020 trips, while 60 percent hoped for bustling city vacations.

Many of those would typically gratify their desire in far flung destinations, but this year, they have discovered the joys of travelling nearby.

Booking.com said the travel desires of many Koreans have still been explored this year, just a little closer to home, on the beaches of Gangwon Province rather than Bali or Santorini, or in charming cities such as Seoul rather than New York or London.

Naksan Temple in Yangyang / gettyimagesbank
Naksan Temple in Yangyang / gettyimagesbank

"During these unprecedented times, it's reassuring to see that while our plans and priorities may have changed, our passion for travel has not. Whether it's the memories captured, relationships strengthened or smiles made, the summer of 2020 proved that the happiness travel can bring is not simply measured in kilometers and that there are plenty of adventures to be explored and comfort to be found right next door," said Arjan Dijk, the senior vice president and chief marketing officer at Booking.com.

"With our mission to make it easier for everyone to experience the world, we offer the widest choice, great value and the easiest experience, so travelers can get out and enjoy all kinds of travel experiences, whenever it's safe to do so and whether that's near or far."


Seen is Candlestick Rock in Donghae, Gangwon Province. Donghae was among the most popular destinations for Korean tourists this summer, along with Hongcheon, Yangyang and Sokcho in the same province, and Yangpyeong in Gyeonggi Province. / gettyimagesbank
Seen is Candlestick Rock in Donghae, Gangwon Province. Donghae was among the most popular destinations for Korean tourists this summer, along with Hongcheon, Yangyang and Sokcho in the same province, and Yangpyeong in Gyeonggi Province. / gettyimagesbank

Distance traveled decreased 69% year-on-year

By Jun Ji-hye

People's travel patterns have changed drastically this year amid the prolonged COVID-19 pandemic, as lockdowns imposed to halt the spread of the coronavirus have made overseas travel much more difficult.

But travelers have been given the opportunity to explore locations closer to home, allowing them to discover local hidden gems and realize the happiness travel brings cannot be measured in kilometers.

Booking.com, one of the big-name online travel services, said its data revealed that the average distance Koreans traveled between June and August was down 69 percent from a year earlier, which was in line with the global average of 63 percent.

The June-August period is usually the summer vacation season in Korea.

About 89 percent of the total distance travelled by Koreans during the period was within Korea, compared to only 11 percent during the same period last year.

Beaches and nature escapes topped the list of popular destinations booked by Korean tourists, as many have been seeking safe travel opportunities in less-crowded destinations.

The most popular destinations this summer were Hongcheon, Yangyang, Donghae and Sokcho in Gangwon Province, and Yangpyeong in Gyeonggi Province.

Green lotus flower field at Dumulmeori in Yangpyeong / gettyimagesbank
Green lotus flower field at Dumulmeori in Yangpyeong / gettyimagesbank

New trend

"Contactless tourism" has become a new trend amid the pandemic, with a recent rise in the popularity of road and camping trip destinations showing the shift in travel patterns.

When looking back at the end of 2019, before people knew that their 2020 travel plans would be altered by the pandemic, only 12 percent of Koreans were intending to take a road trip, and 18 percent hoped to take a camping trip.

While enjoying road trips or camping trips, many Koreans have rediscovered the charm of the country.

When it comes to accommodation types, holiday homes were the most favored choice, followed by hotels.

Gangwon rather than Bali

In the survey conducted by Booking.com at the end of 2019, 51 percent of Korean respondents said they were dreaming of visiting beautiful beaches for their 2020 trips, while 60 percent hoped for bustling city vacations.

Many of those would typically gratify their desire in far flung destinations, but this year, they have discovered the joys of travelling nearby.

Booking.com said the travel desires of many Koreans have still been explored this year, just a little closer to home, on the beaches of Gangwon Province rather than Bali or Santorini, or in charming cities such as Seoul rather than New York or London.

Naksan Temple in Yangyang / gettyimagesbank
Naksan Temple in Yangyang / gettyimagesbank

"During these unprecedented times, it's reassuring to see that while our plans and priorities may have changed, our passion for travel has not. Whether it's the memories captured, relationships strengthened or smiles made, the summer of 2020 proved that the happiness travel can bring is not simply measured in kilometers and that there are plenty of adventures to be explored and comfort to be found right next door," said Arjan Dijk, the senior vice president and chief marketing officer at Booking.com.

"With our mission to make it easier for everyone to experience the world, we offer the widest choice, great value and the easiest experience, so travelers can get out and enjoy all kinds of travel experiences, whenever it's safe to do so and whether that's near or far."


Jun Ji-hye jjh@koreatimes.co.kr


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