Travel stocks on rise over widely anticipated Lunar New Year holiday travel boom

Bomi Yoon

Outbound travelers are seen at Incheon International Airport, Jan. 16. Yonhap

Outbound travelers are seen at Incheon International Airport, Jan. 16. Yonhap

By Yi Whan-woo

Travel stocks are on course for a bull market rally, on the back of pent-up demand for overseas travel during the Lunar New Year holiday next month.

Industry sources speculate the average number of daily outbound tourists departing from Incheon International Airport during the holiday from Feb. 9 to 12 will surpass the current record of 207,829 set before the pandemic.

They noted that flights to popular overseas travel destinations and relevant travel packages are also getting booked quickly for other upcoming holidays, such as Independence Movement Day (March 1) and Children’s Day (May 5).

The trend is anticipated to boost the travel industry to recover fully to pre-pandemic era levels, and stocks are heading higher correspondingly.

Hana Tour, the largest travel company in Korea, closed at 60,100 won ($44.99) on the benchmark KOSPI, Thursday — a 15.35 percent gain from Dec. 28 when it finished 2023 at 52,100 won.

Its Thursday performance was especially noteworthy as it returned to the 60,000 won range for the first time in more than nine months.

Also a leading tour business, Modetour finished at 16,670 won on the junior Kosdaq bourse, Thursday — a 9.38 percent increase from last year’s closing.

Smaller competitors are also on an upward trajectory.

Of other smaller competitors on the Kosdaq, Yellow Balloon Tour improved by 17.65 percent over the aforementioned period, while Very Good Tour gained 16.3 percent.

Concerning Hana Tour, Hana Securities analyst Lee Ki-hoon said the company’s share price “has much room to climb faster.”

He noted the number of the firm’s travel package customers is expected to reach 2.18 million this year, up 60 percent from 2023. Its operating profit is accordingly anticipated to soar 83 percent year-on-year to reach 62.6 billion won.

Ji In-hae, a Shinhan Securities analyst, pointed out that both younger and older tourists are increasingly buying travel packages.

“In that regard, the travel industry is certainly in the bullish market territory for this year,” the analyst said.

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