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More than 1 mln S. Koreans to travel abroad in May 'golden week'

All Headlines 16:37 April 02, 2017

SEOUL, April 2 (Yonhap) -- More than a million South Koreans are expected to go abroad in early May when a string of holidays could allow people to take upwards of nine days off from work, travel industry sources said Sunday.

Many South Korean employees don't go to work on International Workers' Day that falls on May 1, while Buddha's Birthday and Children's Day are national holidays. Buddha's Birthday, celebrated according to the lunar calendar, is on May 3rd this year, while Children's Day is always on May 5. If people can get days off on May 2 and May 4 they can enjoy a South Korean version of a "golden week" from April 29 through May 7, if weekends are counted.

Reflecting this, travel agencies said that the number of overseas tour programs during this period surged twofold compared to last year.

Hana Tour Co., the nation's top travel agency, said it alone has booked 59,000 people wanting to go abroad in the cited period.

"Because there is still a month to go, actual numbers could be three times the 23,000 people that it helped go abroad in early May 2016," the company said.

Mode Tour, another travel agency, said the number of travelers going abroad through its packages jumped 63 percent on-year in early May, with numbers likely to go up in the next few weeks.

Industry insiders said that if individual visits and group tours being arranged by smaller travel-related firms are counted, the actual number could surpass the 1 million mark.

In the May 4-9 period last year, some 451,000 left the country through Incheon International Airport, South Korea's main gateway.

If the number actually reaches a million, it would be an all-time record and easily surpass the 470,000 people that left during last year's Chuseok holiday and this year's Lunar New Year's holiday which saw 500,000 people use Incheon International Airport. Both the Lunar New Year and Chuseok are three-day holidays in the country. Chuseok is viewed as the Korean equivalent of Thanksgiving Day celebrated in the United States.

yonngong@yna.co.kr
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