Price War for Koreatown Travel Agencies

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Korean travel agencies in Southern California are coming up with affordable trip packages to gain an edge in the competition for the fall season.

Over the years, the travel business among many Korean-Americans has been driven by Samho Tour and Aju Tour, two of the biggest agencies in Los Angeles Koreatown.

However, Four Seasons Tours began to emerge as a force in 2014, thanks to its ticketing specialties, followed by the East Coast-based agency PRT Tour’s decision to extend its reach to L.A. this year to fuel the competition even further.

Recently, the addition of Taeyang Tour and other package-driven travel businesses in Southern California are starting to hint a shift in paradigm.

Samho Tour is responding to the heated competition with its “Maple Tour” package. On sale for $199 per person, the Maple Tour available on four separate occasions—Sept. 23, Sept. 26, Oct. 3 and Oct. 10. The tour includes three days of traveling in Bishop, Mono Lake and Lake Tahoe. Aju Tour has also put out an identical package at $199.

Four Seasons Tours has put out a package that takes travelers to the Death Valley and Tecopa Hot Springs. The two-day tour, which begins on Tuesday, is on sale for $199. Meanwhile, LA Tour Wow’s package is slightly more expensive at $249, mainly because unlike other agency’s packages, the group is capped to 12 to 15 travelers, who will have an opportunity to explore Bishop extensively, including Lake Sabrina, South and North Lake as well as Rainbow Falls.

While the affordable travel packages have been driving up the demand among customers, critics say that the agencies are left without much in return despite the rise in sales.

Moreover, Four Seasons Tours is currently preparing a package for travelers to tour the four major canyons (Grand, Bryce, Giant and Antelope), which will begin on Oct. 18 for four days at just $349 per person. It is expected that another price war among the agencies will begin as that date nears.

By Jae Hee Lee