[Journalism Internship] Vacationing is back on the cards, but caution still advised
Kang Min-seok, 19, a freshman at the University of Seoul, can’t wait to go away this summer. For the first time since the outbreak of the coronavirus, he’s finally packing his bags and hitting the road.
“Before Covid-19, I would travel to Icheon, Gyeonggi or the coast in Korea, but I haven’t been able to travel at all since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic,” said Kang.
He and his friends will soon be visiting Gangneung in Gangwon.
As social distancing guidelines have recently been relaxed and vaccinations have begun, many people like Kang who spent days cooped up in their houses last year are deciding to spend this summer outdoors — and ideally in another city.
According to the Jeju Tourism Association, 1,136,452 tourists visited the island in May 2021, 48 percent higher than the 768,102 in the same period a year earlier. According to the statistics, the demand for Jeju travel has increased significantly this year.
Park Ji-oh, a high school student on Jeju Island, said he, too, plans to go on a domestic camping trip this summer with his family.
“We were unable to travel due to the coronavirus, but now my final exams are over and the Covid-19
situation is alleviated, so I think it is a great time to travel,” said Park.
Joo Yoo-kyoung, 28, who lives in Seoul, said she is planning to visit Jeju as well.
“I traveled to Southeast Asia before Covid-19, but this summer I am going to travel to Jeju with my friends for one or two nights,” Joo said. “A lot of people I know are planning trips to Jeju.”
But the relaxed guidelines do not mean that concerns or anxiety about densely populated places or summer vacations have been completely eliminated.
Oh Jou-ahn, 17, who lives in Songdo, Incheon, said she’s decided to skip traveling this year.
“Before Covid-19, I traveled mainly to China or Japan, but last year I had no choice but to cancel my vacation plan due to Covid-19,” Oh said. “I canceled my trip with my family because I was worried when I saw people flocking to tourist attractions in the news.”
With Korea still seeing some hundreds of new cases every day, Oh said she and her family decided to remain cautious and skip their vacation this summer.
While demand for domestic travel seems to be gaining momentum, others say they’re still waiting for it to be safe to travel overseas.
“My friends say they want to travel abroad, not take domestic trips,” said 18-year-old Koh, who said she wished to be identified only by her surname. “When Covid-19 travel regulations are eased and I get vaccinated, I want to travel to the United States and other parts of Asia.”
A 28-year-old nurse in Seoul surnamed Choi said she hopes to go abroad soon, too.
“As Covid-19 cases have decreased, people around me go to Jeju Island a lot and unlike overseas, there are no travel restrictions in Korea, so we can travel to Busan, Jeju and Namhae,” said Choi.
“If the Covid-19 situation improves around the world, I would like to go see a friend living in Britain.”
BY LEE WON-KYOUNG, KIM JUN-SOO [email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org]
with the Korea JoongAng Daily
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