South Korea will temporarily exempt people from 22 visa-waiver nations from mandatory online travel permits and transit visa requirements as part of efforts to attract more foreign tourists and boost domestic demand, the Finance Ministry said on Wednesday.
These are a set of measures aimed at attracting 10 million foreign tourists this year, a goal that could help spur private spending and revitalize the economy amid an economic slowdown, Yonhap News Agency quoted the Ministry as saying.
The number of foreign visitors to South Korea hit a record high of 17.5 million in 2019, generating tourism revenue of $20.7 billion, according to data compiled by the Korea Tourism Organization.
However, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the number of visitors dropped sharply to 2.5 million in 2020 and 967,000 in 2021, before increasing to 3.19 million in 2022.
People from 22 nations, including Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Macau, the US, Canada and the UK, will be able to enter South Korea without getting a permit through the online travel permit system, the Korea Electronic Travel Authorization (K-ETA), by the end of next year if they visit the country for sightseeing and attending events.
The K-ETA is required for travellers from 110 visa-waiver nations, and the 22 countries were chosen as the entry rejection rate among their nationals “is quite low”, according to the Ministry.