Fall Travel Week gets the chop, safe travel promoted instead

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Fall Travel Week gets the chop, safe travel promoted instead

A view of Gangwon's Hongcheon County filled with leaves turning colors. [YONHAP]

A view of Gangwon's Hongcheon County filled with leaves turning colors. [YONHAP]

Think once more about safety if you are planning to take a trip anywhere to soak up the fall spirit — this is the message from the Korean government. 
It has decided to not hold its annual Fall Travel Week, in which both public and private businesses offer a variety of discounts and special promotions to encourage people to take some time away from home and to disperse the concentration of travel that’s focused on summer and winter.
This year, instead of promoting Fall Travel Week, the Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism will promote a safe travel campaign until the end of the year. It sees that many are tired from self-quarantining at home to minimize time spent outside where many strangers cross paths and are looking for ways to get out of their homes, especially since the restrictions for social distancing were relaxed down to Level 1. 
However, the Culture Ministry will abide by K-quarantine guidelines set in place by other government organizations and advise that travels should be made in small groups to less crowded areas while following all safety measures.
It has cited that during its promotion for the Special Travel Week, which ran for 19 days in July, the number of daily cases of coronavirus-confirmed patients in Korea was about 25.6 on average, down from an average of 30.1 from the two weeks prior. 
The daily confirmed cases continued to fall even two weeks after the Travel Week promotion to about 16 on average, showing that traveling while being mindful of safety guidelines poses no real risk or impact on medical experts’ efforts to crack down on the virus.
To introduce more options for travel destinations, the government has put together 100 places that are less crowded yet perfect to enjoy the fall scenes of the leaves changing colors. Sajapyeong Gowon Seupji, a wetland in South Gyeongsang’s Milyang and Seohura Forest in Gyeonggi’s Yangpyeong are some of the outdoor spots one can take a slow walk to see some colorful scenes. Gwangju’s Wolbong Seowon, a school and library from the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910) offers a chance to feel the academic spirit from the past with an amazing backdrop of nature. Molundae in Busan is where uniquely shaped rocks make harmony with pine trees and where one can watch an amazing sunset.
To help potential travelers more conveniently browse what options they have, the ministry will start a service where one can check which area is less crowded from Oct. 28. Through travel website www.visitkorea.or.kr, the ministry checks big data of where certain mobile, transportation and credit card services are being used, and alerts which areas are seeing high volumes of traffic and which areas are not, so that tourists can make an informed decision. 
If you visit one of the 100 chosen spots and follow safety measures properly, you'll also have a chance to win a gift.  
The government will also embark on a new travel theme where individuals walk separately while connected online from Oct. 26. Participants can download a mobile application called Durunubi to find a walkway to follow, and a chosen few will win a gift. 
To further disperse walking enthusiasts, the new Namparang-gil trail along the South Sea will open Oct. 31. 
Another program will be launched on Oct. 29 at nine different resorts and other healing spots that will specifically target medical experts and other volunteers to allow them some downtime from the stress of the past few months. 
BY LEE SUN-MIN   [summerlee@joongang.co.kr]

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