South Koreans flocking to Hawaii for ‘revenge travel’

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HONOLULU (KHON2) — With South Korea easing some of its pandemic restrictions, the travel boom has already begun with a rush for what’s being called “revenge travel” — a term used by folks who cancelled travel plans due to COVID-19 restrictions and delays.

The government’s announcement to lift mandatory quarantine to fully vaccinated returning passengers has South Koreans scrambling to book overseas trips. Hawaii, of course, is at the top of the list.

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Asiana Airlines, Korea’s second-largest carrier, resumed flights to Hawaii on April 3. The Incheon-Hawaii passenger flight (OZ232) achieved an 80% occupancy rate. This route is the first since the suspension of flights was in effect in March 2020. Most of the passengers on board are couples or families traveling abroad for their honeymoons, which have been delayed due to the pandemic.

After the South Korean government announced a plan to lift self-isolation upon entry, the reservation rate for the route has more than doubled in the past three weeks, according to Hawaii Tourism Korea (HTK).

In line with this trend, HTK reports that Korean Air also has plans to increase its Hawaii route, operating from three times a week to five flights a week in May. A larger aircraft will also be used: Instead of the Airbus A330, which has 270 to 280 seats, the Boeing B747-8i aircraft will be used, with 368 seats.

“We are seeing a rapid growth in the number of bookings for Hawai‘i and the resuming flights reflecting the pent-up demand to travel overseas after the government’s announcement canceling the quarantine mandate for the fully vaccinated returning passengers.  Following this change, Hawai‘i Tourism Korea will be carrying out active PR/Marketing activities this year putting Mālama Hawai‘i Campaign in the center to educate travelers on sustainable ways to experience Hawai‘i on a deeper level.”

Caitlin Cho, PR & Digital Marketing Manager, Hawaii Tourism Korea


According to CJ ONSTYLE, a South Korean shopping channel, during the Hawaii package tour broadcast on March 18 with the travel agency Kyowon KRT, about 1,200 orders were placed in an hour. That’s an order amount of over 9 billion won, approximately $7,500,000.

In late March, HTK reports that the Interpark Tour Hawaii package product sold through Hyundai Home Shopping recorded about 5,200 orders through a 70-minute live broadcast. According to Interpark Tour, overseas ticket reservations also increased by 873% from the previous year.


Timon, a leading e-commerce platform, conducted a travel survey asking 530 people for a week started on March 22. More than half (55%) said, “I looked into overseas travel products for the announcement of exemption from self-quarantine for overseas entrants.” About 53% of respondents chose “family” as the type of companion; 38% preferred a trip of five to six days; 30% chose one week or more.

HTK adds that the phenomenon of revenge consumption is expected to increase.

South Korea’s government is actively cooperating with the resumption of international flights. HTK reports that the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport is working to restore international flights to 50% of the pre-2019 level by the end of this year.

In addition to easing travel restrictions, the limit on private social gatherings has been raised from eight to 10 people; restaurants, bars and other indoor spaces can also stay open until midnight.

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Most social distancing restrictions could be removed if the outbreak continues to slow down in the country. Officials will be watching the numbers over the next two weeks.


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