The travel industry says men are more price-sensitive and fonder of travel than women. And while male travelers enjoy going overseas for its own sake and stress sightseeing, women care more about facilities, be it the spa in their hotel or the shopping opportunities. That is the reason women travelers tend to favor cities over historic sites and staying in one place over touring. Where there is a market, there is a provider, and travel agencies have started tailoring tours to women travelers. Nextour sells three days at the Ryokan “fairytale village,” a special package for women that allows them to enjoy the hot springs the Japanese destination is famous for but does not cram their days with outings and programs. Another three-day package promises a taste of the luxury of old Shanghai and, priced at W399,000, is W100,000 more expensive than ordinary weekend trips to the city.

Michelle Peluso, chief executive of Travelocity, the world's second largest online travel agency, said during a recent Korea visit that women customers now account for 65 percent of 40 million members. Women enjoy thorough research online and comparing prices, she says, and it is often women who make the purchasing decisions.

Older women, too, increasingly look for the easy companionship of another woman when they travel. Park Moon-hwa (60), who volunteers as a culture travel guide, looked for a senior companion to go to Europe with on the bulletin boards of several travel agencies. “I started taking overseas trips when I turned 50, and I usually go with my relatives. My husband? He doesn’t have time as he is still working, and he doesn’t like traveling either,” she says. “In any case, I can’t really enjoy my trips when I go with my husband because I have to take care of him.”

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