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S. Korea looks to open up international travel through "Travel Bubble" with other countries Updated: 2021-06-10 08:44:14 KST

For more I have Kim Do-yeon here in the studio.
Welcome Do-yeon .

Good afternoon, Sunhee.

So the GIST here in Korea is to seek TRAVEL BUBBLES with some of its neighbors?

Yes. If realized, the travel bubble will make group tours possible, between Korea and several other countries, so as long as there's a bilateral agreement.
With a negative PCR test result and a vaccine certificate, people can travel to countries within the bubble, and they will not be subject to quarantine, if they test negative for COVID-19 upon returning.
Korea is currently negotiating a travel bubble with Singapore, Taiwan, and Thailand among other countries.
Looking more broadly, Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, Taiwan and Palau have already or are planning to implement such a system.
Health authorities believe this is an important first step in reviving the travel industry.

(Korean - ) June 9, 2021
"Broader exchanges with countries through a travel bubble will provide more convenience for citizens,… aid the recovery of the tourism and aviation industries,… while effectively containing the spread of imported cases."


Right, so I spoke to a representative from a local travel agency, and he sounded very excited.
He said the company already has overseas tour packages in the works right now. Take a listen.

(Korean - ) 0
"We're certainly glad to see the government laying the groundwork for a resumption in travel. We've already created packages for countries where travel is possible, since they are reopening their borders one by one."

AND what Do-yeon has been the PUBLIC RESPONSE?

Well, as of now, there aren't many people who meet the full requirements to resume traveling.
So, even though eased restrictions are likely to come into effect starting July, we probably won't see a pickup in travel until about a month or so later.

(Korean - ) 0
"We haven't seen any notable differences in the number of calls and inquiries coming in, since vaccinations are a requirement. We believe many people will have been fully-vaccinated by September, so we're expecting an increase in travel to occur sometime in September or October."

MEANWHILE what should travellers keep in mind when planning to venture overseas?

Right, the usual exercise in prevention we can all visualize since we've been living with COVID-19 for more than a year.
But one thing to keep in mind is that travel will only be allowed in group tour packages.
Vacationing solo is not an option for now, to allow health authorities to better monitor the travelers and respond to any outbreaks.
In addition travelers will only be allowed to take direct flights between Korea and a partnering country.
They are also required to have stayed in Korea for two weeks prior to their departure date.
The same requirements apply vice versa to those coming to Korea from partnering countries.

Sounds promising BUT I hear there is STILL MUCH WORK AHEAD?

Right. For example, there are still no rules yet on the maximum number of travelers in one group.
But, when the rules are eventually set, the government is looking to better enforce them by assigning chaperones to make sure tour groups comply with local prevention guidelines.
They may even delegate some authority to the tour guides leading the groups.
The government believes the sharing of responsibility may lead to better prevention.

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(Korean - ) June 9, 2021
"Compliance to prevention guidelines will be the responsibility of not only individual travelers, but travel agencies as well, and we will strengthen our containment efforts, through this double layer of accountability."

All right, hopefully, everything is clearer in the near future and we can finally take vacations abroad soon.
Thank you, Do-yeon.

Thank you.
Reporter : tkim@arirang.com
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