Jeju was packed with tourists on Lunar New Year
Over 150,000 people visited the southern resort island of Jeju over the Lunar New Year holidays, according to the Jeju Tourism Association on Sunday.
That was around 10,000 more than the association expected after the government appealed to the public to refrain from traveling during the holidays due to Covid-19.
Feb. 11, the first day of the four-day holiday, recorded 36,326 travelers arriving in Jeju, the highest number of arrivals for a single day during the period.
Most of the travelers were tourists drawn by unusually warm weather during the Lunar New Year holidays, available hotel rooms on the island and the difficulty of overseas travel due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“As a result of the ease of making reservations on mobile apps, people don’t have to make travel plans several days in advance to travel,” said Moon Jeon-hyeok, publicity director of the Jeju Tourism Board.
“It seems that the ability to find empty seats and vacant rooms online has contributed to the higher number of tourists booking travel over the holidays.”
With bars and restaurants in Jeju packed with visitors, the island is now in a state of high alert for Covid-19 infections resulting from the influx.
Out of 12 newly confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Jeju between Feb. 6 and 12, five were related to people from the Seoul metropolitan area. As of 11 a.m. Sunday, the cumulative number of confirmed Covid-19 infections in Jeju stood at 547.
While groups of five people or more were difficult to spot, tourists on the island were seen removing face masks for photos. Social distancing measures were also violated as restaurant and cafe patrons queued for service.
During the Lunar New Year holidays, Jeju operated a “one-strike-out” policy for violators of social distancing guidelines. The Jeju government plans to demand reimbursement from travelers who do not undergo testing prior to their arrival on the island and later test positive.
Starting last year, travelers to Jeju who are found to have a temperature over 37.5 degrees Celsius (99.5 degrees Fahrenheit) are obliged to be tested for Covid-19. However, those who submit proof of negative test results are entitled to discounted entry to tourist sites on the island.
BY CHOI CHOONG-IL, MICHAEL LEE [firstname.lastname@example.org]