Regular FeaturesOpinion
Staycation, a New Blue OceanWhy we need to acknowledge and develop this new trend
Choi Ye-seon  |
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승인 2016.09.09  00:01:34
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IT IS September now and the vacation season has almost ended. Did you go the beach? Instead of a real ocean, how about the blue ocean of staycation, a recently increasing trend in Korea? According to market research company Trend Monitor’s survey reported this August, 56.6% of 1,000 adults answered that they do not feel the need to go traveling this summer vacation. Among these respondents, 72.1% said that too many people at travel sites, as well as overcharging during the vacation season, are holding them back. Other reasons were because they want to have a quiet time, because they have other things planned, and so on. As such, the numbers of those who are spending their vacation time without special plans are increasing; this way of spending time is referred to as a “staycation”.

   According to, staycation - a portmanteau of “stay” and “vacation” - is a vacation spent at home or near home, doing enjoyable activities or visiting local attractions. As Hon-bap-jok* and Hon-nol-jok** are increasing in Korea and spending time alone is becoming a universal phenomenon, spending one’s vacation alone at home is no longer seen as an abnormal thing. However, some claim that staycation - a plausible term - is a mirror of our individualistic society, and modern people’s surrender to society’s pressures.
   It is true that our society has become heartless compared to the past and that economic and social pressures are constantly growing. Moreover, this kind of reality indeed has contributed to the advent of the staycation trend. According to a survey done by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport this July, the top two reasons why Korean workers cannot go on vacation away from home are first, because of social pressure in their workplace, and second, because of financial problems. Korea's economic situation is both unique and unstable – and since the economy greatly affects people's lifestyle, this has resulted in social and cultural transformation. We need to accept this natural transition period, however, and turn this shift, often referred to as a crisis, into an opportunity.
   One way of accepting and making profits from the staycation phenomenon is developing vacation policies that correspond to this new trend. Making vacation policies without taking into account the current situation will only produce armchair discussions without meaningful effects. For instance, according to the Korea Culture and Tourism Institute’s research in 2015, domestic travel expenses (excluding business trips) have decreased continuously for the past three years. However, every vacation season, the government introduces legislation for making tollgate fees free, expecting to vitalize the domestic economy. Instead, if we properly adapt to the staycation trend, we will be able to fuel domestic demand efficiently. Home theater gadgets, delivery services, and home movie channels are some promising fields in this new blue ocean of the staycation business.
   Staycation is not a mere passive surrender to reality. Rather, staycationers choose to spend their quality time at home, prioritizing their own rest and pleasure. Looking at the burgeoning staycation trend only in a negative way as a submission to Korea’s current pressures means denying the natural economic, social, and cultural development of our society. Unlike the prior trends in the vacation sector, where people often travelled standardized routes without realizing what they really wanted, the staycation option involves listening thoroughly to one's inner voice and deciding for oneself what one wants to do.  
**Hon-bap-jok*: People who have meals alone
***Hon-nol-jok*: People who spend their free time alone
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