A view of Incheon Airport from the airport’s observatory on Oct. 11 (Yonhap)
With South Korea soon to embrace a return to normal by “living with COVID-19,” many newlyweds are ready to go abroad for their honeymoons.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic began early last year, honeymooners in Korea have been flocking to the southern holiday destination Jeju Island or the southern coastal region of Namhae in South Gyeongsang Province, taking advantage of package deals at luxury hotels.
With the global vaccination rate on the rise and with some travel destination countries and regions reopening their borders to vaccinated travelers, more newlyweds are opting to go abroad for their honeymoons.
“I am going to go to the Maldives after the wedding in November,” said bride-to-be Kim Da-seul. Kim and her fiance, who are both fully vaccinated, have booked a 10-day honeymoon on the tropical islands.
As of July, tourists vaccinated with World Health Organization-approved vaccines can travel to the Maldives without restrictions as long as they can present negative results from a PCR test for COVID-19, performed less than 96 hours prior to entering the country.
“In the Maldives, only the ones who have tested negative through the PCR test can enter a resort. We are going to stay at our resort during the whole honeymoon. I think it is much safer than traveling on Jeju Island, packed with random people,” Kim said. “Also, luxury resorts and car rentals on Jeju Island have become unreasonably expensive these days.”
Kim is not alone in preferring an overseas honeymoon destination.
Online communities for newlyweds and engaged couples feature long lists of posts showing users are planning to go to the Maldives, Hawaii, Guam or Cancun, Mexico, for their honeymoons later in the year or early next year.
Travel agencies -- hit hard by the pandemic for more than a year and eager to return to normal -- are showcasing new package deals targeting honeymooners seeking to go overseas.
According to travel agency Interpark Tour, more than 200 people booked airline tickets for the Maldives in September, a sevenfold increase from the month before.
Since Korea inked a travel bubble agreement with Saipan in June, the US territory has become a favored tourist destination for Koreans too. Interpark Tour’s package deals for Saipan in November are sold out. According to the Mariana Visitors Authority, more than 4,000 Koreans have signed up for trips to Saipan between now and the end of this year.
“As a honeymoon is a once-in-a-lifetime event, unlike other trips, newlywed customers are set to go abroad even though the pandemic crisis has not been fully resolved yet. It seems like they are going to lead the overseas tourism trend,” an official from a travel agency here said.
But there are also some who are still reluctant to go abroad due to COVID-19 concerns.
“I don’t understand people who are planning honeymoons overseas. This pandemic is not over yet,” said Yoon Ji-su, an office worker in her early 30s who is planning her wedding early next year.
“I will be settling for just Jeju Island. Of course, I want to go to the Maldives, Cancun or Hawaii, but I am worried about what could happen if I get COVID-19 while I am abroad. Also, I would be concerned about what people at work might think about me if I went overseas for my honeymoon,” Yoon said.
By Im Eun-byel (firstname.lastname@example.org