Travel agencies

Travel agencies diversify in struggle to stay afloat


Travel agency cabins are empty at Incheon International Airport, west of Seoul, on July 20, 2020 (Yonhap)

Travel agency cabins are empty at Incheon International Airport, west of Seoul, on July 20, 2020 (Yonhap)

SEOUL, May 31 (Korea Bizwire)Kang Soon-young, a 49-year-old man who runs a small travel agency in Seoul’s Gangdong District, converted half the office into a laundromat in April 2020, as overseas travel became nearly impossible due to the coronavirus outbreak.

After opening the door to the travel agency that no one visits in the morning, he starts running the laundry.

As the income he earns from operating the laundromat is not enough to cover the rent on the ground floor, he started a part-time job in the afternoon about six months ago.

“The travel industry has been excluded from most government relief programs over the past year because it is not subject to the ban on private gatherings,” Kang said,

“To stay afloat, many travel agency owners are selling other products while renovating their offices.

Amid the protracted COVID-19 crisis, small and medium-sized travel agencies are diversifying in an attempt to stay afloat.

According to a comprehensive count survey by the Korea Travel Agency Association, among the 17,664 registered travel agencies in the country as of October 2020, 74.1% were still operating as travel agencies.

Of the remaining 25.9 percent, 1.1 percent had closed, 22.4 percent were “virtually closed,” while 2.4 percent were trying to survive by diversifying into other areas of business.

Travel agencies lament that their last hope is fading as the travel industry has not been included in the list of companies eligible to benefit from the loss compensation law which is currently under discussion at the National Assembly, and the government appears unwilling to accept retroactive requests for assistance.

JS Shin ([email protected])