Jeju’s tourism industry, which had expected to see a year-end boost, is freezing up again due to the resumption of social distancing.
According to the province’s tourism industry, inquiries are surging on canceling reservations for hotels and rental cars ahead of the return of social distancing.
Reservations at 3-4 star hotels, which seemed to recover since the “living with COVID” policy, are now 20-30% canceled. According to an affiliate at a hotel in Jeju-si, “Though we had expected the year-end reservations to reach over 90% under the ‘living with COVID’ policy, it is only 80% due to the spread of the new Omicron variant. Since the government announced the reinforcement of social distancing, an additional 10 to 20% has been canceled.”
Rental car and charter bus companies are also facing more cancellations. About 10% of rental car reservations were canceled before the government announcement, and an additional 20% dropped afterward, bringing the total reservation rate down to 50-60%. Reservations for charter buses, which had recovered from school trips and conferences, are merely at 10%.
One after another, festivals and events planned for the year-end and New Year holidays in Jeju are canceled or reorganized into non-face-to-face meetings. The night hiking to Hallasan Mountain for the new year’s first sunrise is also completely prohibited.
Seongsan Sunrise Festival is an event that celebrates the new year at Seongsan Ilchungbong Peak, the famous sunrise spot. It had been scheduled for two days from December 31 to January 1, but all the New Year’s Eve events are now canceled and parts of the program will be conducted non-face-to-face.
The Hallasan National Park Management of Jeju World Heritage Office has decided to ban night hikes to the summit of Hallasan Mountain for New Year’s Eve in 2022 to prevent the spread of COVID.
Despite significantly reducing the scale, the annual Seogwipo International Winter Sea Penguin Swimming Festival held on January 1 is also likely to be canceled to strengthen disease control measures.
One of the Jeju tourism industry insiders remarked, “The short revival of the festive atmosphere and the year-end boost with the rise of hotel and group bookings amid ‘living with COVID’ is effectively over, following the emergence of Omicron and the reinforcement of disease control.”
ⓒ Jeju Weekly 2009 (http://www.jejuweekly.com)
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