SEOUL, May 31 (Korea Bizwire) — Kang Soon-young, a 49-years-old man who runs a small travel agency in Gangdong District, Seoul, converted half of the office into a laundromat in April 2020 as overseas travel became almost impossible due to the outbreak of the coronavirus.
After opening the door of the travel agency that no one visits in the morning, he starts managing the laundromat.
Since the income he gains from the operation of the laundromat is not enough to cover the first floor rent, he started a part-time job in the afternoon about six months ago.
“The travel industry has been excluded from most of the government’s relief packages over the past year, since it is not subject to the ban on private gatherings,” Kang said,
“To stay afloat, many owners of travel agencies are selling other products by renovating their offices.”
Amid the prolonged COVID-19 crisis, small and medium-sized travel agencies are diversifying in a bid to stay afloat.
According to a complete enumeration survey by the Korea Association of Travel Agencies, among the 17,664 travel agencies registered across the country as of October 2020, 74.1 percent were still operating as travel agencies.
Among 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 branching out into other business areas.
The travel agencies lament that their last hope is disappearing since the travel industry was not included in the list of businesses that could benefit from the Loss Compensation Law that is now under discussion at the National Assembly, and the government does not appear to be willing to accept retroactive applications for assistance.
J. S. Shin (email@example.com)