A photo of Taiwanese travelers Photo = Korea Tourism Organization
On September 19, at 2:10 pm (KST), a plane that crossed the East China Sea appeared over Jeju Island. It was Tigerair’s passenger plane that departed from Taiwan. It had been few months since international passengers plane departing from overseas reached the Jeju sky, after the incoming international flights were unified to Incheon Airport in accordance with the COVID-19 outbreak.
The plane flew over Jeju for 20 minutes and then returned back the way it came. This is because it is a so-called “flight to nowhere” ‘that does not require getting off at Jeju Airport. A total of 120 Taiwanese tourists pledged to travel to Korea after the end of COVID-19, as they enjoyed the view of Hallasan Mountain with fried chicken and beer.
A Taiwanese couple who participated in the Korea Tourism Organization’s “Virtual Trip to Jeju” product are taking commemorative photos wearing hanbok before takeoff. Photo = Korea Tourism Organization
Mr. Liu Chunhui (劉純惠, 35) said, “The country I want to travel the most after COVID-19 is Korea.”
With the global COVID-19 pandemic, overseas travel became distant from everyday life, and more and more people are saying that they want to ride an airplane. As a result, the “flight to nowhere” products that take passengers off on an airplane for a simulated overseas trip then land back are becoming rapidly popular.
According to the Korea Tourism Organization on September 21, 120 Taiwanese travelers who participated in the “Early Bird Special for Jeju Virtual Travel” hosted by KTO’s Taipei branch office and the airline Tigerair on September 19 flew to Jeju and toured from the sky. It is an alternative travel product that turns around after hovering in the air without landing at Jeju Airport.
Taiwanese travelers are eating fried chicken and beer for their in-flight meal. Photo = Korea Tourism Organization
On that day, travelers dressed in hanbok, took photos before boarding the plane at Taoyuan International Airport in Taiwan, played traditional Korean games, and held a declaration of departure to fully enjoy the feeling of going on an overseas journey. Cai Yuping (蔡玉萍, 46), one of the travelers, said, “I wore a hanbok, played folk games, and it was very fun from start to finish.”
After the departure event and procedures, the travelers who boarded the plane and took off enjoyed the chicken and beer, which has become a globally popular “K-food.” During the flight, they also had time to learn the Jeju dialect. They learned “Annyeongheougga (Hello)” and “Honjeopseoye (Welcome),” and wrote letters with postcards that were handed out.
About 100 minutes after taking off, a moderator announced that they arrived in Jeju sky. As the plane lowered the altitude instead of landing and turned around the island, the passengers cheered, taking out their smartphones and cameras to capture the scenery of Jeju from the sky. They were quenching their long thirst for travel that had accumulated for over half a year. After visiting Jeju Island for about 20 minutes, the plane returned to Taiwan and completed the 4-hour trip.
Taiwanese travelers are learning Jeju dialect on board during flight. Photo = Korea Tourism Organization
This flight-only tour is a product designed by the Korea Tourism Organization in light of the popularity of new travel trends such as check-in services and in-flight experiences abroad. This is to increase interest in travel to Korea while satisfying the demand for overseas travel through the experience of flight-only tours to Korea. Starting with the COVID-19 pandemic, the existing style of travel exchanges has been reset, and it became important to secure potential travel demand in preparation for the end of the outbreak.
Although the contactless online marketing is also important, the KTO proceeded with this product because the flight-only tour products that allow you to experience actual travel is high in demand. In fact, Japan’s All Nippon Airways (ANA) recently sold a product that landed back at the same place after flying for 90 minutes, and more than 150 times the total capacity applied for it. Taiwan’s Starlux Airlines also offered a product that flew low and returned to the suburbs of Taiwan, and all related products were sold out in seconds.
In particular, KTO’s product more remarkable in that it flies across the airspace like an actual trip rather than flying around the departure point. If you operate a short-distance route, it allows passengers to purchase duty-free goods on board, which is highly likely to create additional profit. This is the reason why flight-only tours are emerging as a promising option in the airline industry that has fallen into a recession. Accordingly, in Korea, Air Busan is considering a plan to introduce flight-only tour products to the general public in time for the subsidence of the outbreak.
KTO’s product was also successful, selling out in 4 minutes after the sale started. “We planned a product to direct Taiwanese tourists, the third-largest in the overall visitor market, toward Korea as their first overseas travel destination after the outbreak,” said Kang Seong-jae, director of KTO’s Taipei office. “As we have reconfirmed their passion for Korea through this promotion, we expect the tourist demand for visiting Korea to recover at a rapid pace when tourism and exchanges resume in the future.”
Jeju Weekly firstname.lastname@example.org