The government has declared Oct. 2 a one-off holiday this year, which creates a record 10-day Chuseok break lasting from Sept. 30 to Oct. 9.
The aim is to boost domestic consumption, but it remains to be seen whether that will happen as record numbers plan to spend their money on trips abroad instead.
The number of Koreans traveling abroad in October is expected to rise 30 percent compared to the same period of last year. On the other hand fewer Chinese tourists are expected to visit Korea during China’s National Day holidays, also in early October.
In the last three years, some 160,000 to 200,000 Chinese tourists visited Korea during the period, but numbers have dwindled amid an unofficial Chinese boycott.
Entry fees to parks, palaces and other tourist attractions will be waived or lowered during Chuseok or Korean Thanksgiving.
Seoul’s four palaces including Changdeok, Deoksu and Gyeongbok palaces, Jongmyo Shrine and the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art will be open to the public free of charge, as will museums and royal tombs across the country.
For those seeking a more active getaway, entry fees to 42 national recreational parks and forests will be waived, while those at 32 national parks will be discounted by 20 percent for campers.
Over 70 villages will offer hands-on programs to experience rural life with huge discounts of up to 50 percent.
The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism also plans to offer various events for foreign travelers to promote Korea until next month.
Korean Air will operate extra flights to handle the increase in travelers during Chuseok or Korean Thanksgiving.
Over 50 domestic flights will be added between Sept. 30 and Oct. 9, the flagship carrier said Monday. A huge number of people are expected to travel during this year’s Chuseok break from Sept. 30 to Oct. 9.
Asiana Airlines is also considering adding flights during the period.
More than a million Koreans are expected to head abroad on vacation during this year’s record 10-day Chuseok holiday, the Korea Tourism Organization said Wednesday.
Last year, 400,000 people headed overseas over Chuseok. During the weeklong break in early May this year, 770,000 people went abroad. And over the Lunar New Year in late January, 410,000 left the country.
In May, workers had to take days off to stretch the holiday, but this Chuseok everyone working a regular five-day week gets an official 10 days off.
Mode Tour said the number of bookings to Europe rose 77 percent and to the U.S. 71 percent compared to last year, surpassing the increase for the usual favorites of Japan (up 37 percent) and Southeast Asia (up 42 percent).
Jeju Air staff make songpyeon or crescent-shaped rice cakes at a facility for elderly people in Seoul on Tuesday, ahead of Chuseok or Korean Thanksgiving.