South Korea's scenic Jeju on high alert for Covid-19 as 200,000 visitors expected over annual holiday

Some 200,000 tourists are expected to visit the scenic island from Sept 30 through Oct 4. PHOTO: REUTERS

SEOUL (THE KOREA HERALD/ASIA NEWS NETWORK, XINHUA) - The health authorities of South Korea's Jeju Province are on high alert ahead of the Chuseok holiday, as some 200,000 tourists are expected to visit the scenic island from Sept 30 through Oct 4.

The Jeju Tourism Association projected on Wednesday (Sept 16) that at least 198,000 visitors will enter the island over the five-day holiday.

This means a daily average of about 40,000 visitors landing on Jeju, close to the figures seen during the summer peak holiday season.

Airliners are seeing booking rates of between 70 and 80 per cent for their routes to Jeju from Gimpo, Gyeonggi province, and Gimhae, near Busan, prompting some airlines to deploy additional flights for the annual Chuseok holidays.

Booking rates for accommodation and rental cars are also rising sharply for that period, alarming Jeju's health authorities. Most of the golf courses on Jeju are already fully booked for the five days.

As the social distancing measures have been relaxed from Level 2.5 to Level 2, nationwide demand for travel appears to be favouring Jeju.

With about two weeks left till Chuseok, local governments are asking South Koreans to refrain from visiting their hometowns.

The central government has said it will toughen its social distancing measures during the holidays, limiting how far people can travel.

Jeju health authorities said they will focus on preventing the spread of Covid-19 by asking people to abide strictly by disease prevention guidelines and refrain from visiting risky places.

South Korea reported 113 more Covid-19 cases as of 12am local time on Wednesday compared to 24 hours ago, raising the total number of infections to 22,504.

The daily caseload stayed below 200 for two straight weeks, but it continued to grow in triple digits since Aug 14.

It was attributed to cluster infections in Seoul and its surrounding Gyeonggi province linked to church services and a massive rally held in central Seoul on Aug 15.

Of the new cases, 49 were Seoul residents and 24 were people residing in Gyeonggi province. Eight were imported from overseas, lifting the combined figure to 3,038.

No deaths were reported, leaving the death toll at 367.

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