May 24, 2024
Fu Bao, the first Korea-born giant panda, chews bamboo as visitors watch at the Everland amusement park in Yongin, Gyeonggi Province, Feb. 25. The beloved panda went off display a week later to undergo medical assessments and quarantine procedures before being transported to China on April 3. Yonhap

Fu Bao, the first Korea-born giant panda, chews bamboo as visitors watch at the Everland amusement park in Yongin, Gyeonggi Province, Feb. 25. The beloved panda went off display a week later to undergo medical assessments and quarantine procedures before being transported to China on April 3. Yonhap

By Lee Hae-rin

Korea’s travel agencies are scrambling to offer panda-themed tour packages to leverage heated attention on Fu Bao, the first Korea-born giant panda who was transferred to her motherland China last week.

Hana Tour, the nation’s largest travel agency, will start promoting a series of panda tour packages to China next week.

The packages offer visits to Shenshuping Base of the China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda in Wolong, where Fu Bao is being now kept. They also include visits to other major panda centers, such as Dujiangyan Panda Base and Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding.

Modetour, another leading travel agency, also launched tour packages to Chengdu last week, dubbed “Reunion with Princess Fu.” Fu Bao will not be on display to the public for some time yet but the itinerary includes a visit to the panda center in Wolong where she is being kept.

Interpark Tour also unveiled a package tour to China named “Fu Bao’s homeland,” which also includes a visit to the panda center in Chengdu.

The Everland amusement park, where Fu Bao was born and raised, is holding discussions with travel agencies on offering special tours that include an actual reunion with the beloved panda once she is revealed to the public again after a period of adjustment.

Visitors line up to enter the Everland amusement park in Yongin, Gyeonggi Province, to attend Fu Bao's farewell event on March 3. The beloved panda went off display the next day to undergo quarantine procedures before being transported to China on April 3. Joint Press Corp.

Visitors line up to enter the Everland amusement park in Yongin, Gyeonggi Province, to attend Fu Bao’s farewell event on March 3. The beloved panda went off display the next day to undergo quarantine procedures before being transported to China on April 3. Joint Press Corp.

Fu Bao, whose name means “treasure that brings happiness,” became a national sensation here during the COVID-19 pandemic, when many felt depression and lethargy due to social distancing.

According to the amusement park, approximately 5.5 million people visited the panda exhibit to see her between January 2021 and March this year. The figure is around one-tenth of Korea’s entire population.

Panda-themed tour packages have already met success in neighboring Japan.

Xiang Xiang, a female panda born and raised at Ueno Zoo in Japan in 2017, also drew eager crowds before being sent to China in February last year.

Japan’s tour packages to China that marked Xiang Xiang’s birthday on June 12 and included reunions with the beloved panda were sold out instantly upon release.


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