Outbound travelers to surge during Chuseok on extended holidays

SEOUL-- The number of South Koreans traveling abroad is expected to jump during the upcoming Chuseok season which falls in early October as the holiday could be as long as 10 days, industry data showed Monday.

Chuseok, one of the biggest annual holidays here and roughly equivalent to Thanksgiving in the United States, falls on Oct. 4 this year.

If the government makes Oct. 2 a temporary holiday, South Koreans could take 10 days off straight, including both weekends, from Sept. 30 to Oct. 9. Oct. 3 is National Foundation Day and Oct. 9 is Hangeul Day, commemorating the creation of the Korean alphabet.

According to the data by Hana Tour, the country's No. 1 travel agency, some 77,000 people have made reservations for trips abroad during the period as of Sunday, up 97.4 percent from about 39,000 tallied during last year's Chuseok season. Last year's Chuseok holiday ran for five days from Sept. 14-18, including the weekend.

Among the total, bookings for Southeast Asian countries were the most popular at 42.4 percent, followed by Japan at 23.9 percent and China at 15.7 percent. Last year, 29 percent of total reservations during the Chuseok season were to China.

The large neighboring country with plenty of tourist attractions has been a popular destination for locals opting for short and inexpensive outbound holiday getaways, but such demand has been sapped by growing safety concerns over anti-Korea sentiment spreading over the mainland. Beijing has actively opposed Seoul's decision to deploy a U.S. missile defense system on its soil, which caused consumers to boycott South Korean products.

The number of people heading to Europe and the Americas came to 8.5 percent and 5.4 percent, respectively, this year. In 2016, their proportion stood at 4.6 percent and 2.5 percent, each.

Mode Tour, another leading travel firm, said some 37,000 people made reservations for Chuseok as of Sunday, up 37 percent from 27,000 last year.

"Inquiries for trips during this year's Chuseok holiday actually started last year with more people opting for long-distance travel to the Americans and Europe," an industry source said.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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