S. Korea proposes Olympic visa waiver for tourists from China and Southeast Asia

By Park Sae-jin Posted : January 29, 2018, 11:36 Updated : January 29, 2018, 11:36

[Photo by Namkung Jinwoong = timeid@ajunews.com]

SEOUL, Jan. 29 (Aju News) -- South Korea proposed a temporary no-visa entry Monday for tourists from China and Southeast Asia as ticket sales abroad remain stagnant despite North Korea's sudden participation in next month's Winter Olympics.

The proposal, which came at a meeting of policymakers from the government and the ruling party, reflects growing jitters among Olympic organizers that the number of foreign spectators and tourists, especially from China, Japan and others Asian countries, may fall short of their target. As of January 18, about 70 percent of Olympic tickets have been sold.

Next month, Chinese visitors can stay for up to 15 days if they have Olympics tickets worth more than 200,000 won (188 US dollars), and groups of more than five tourists from Southeast Asian countries such as Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam will be given a visa-free entry for 15 days.

The tourism industry was hit by a business setback last year when Beijing implemented a ban on group tours to South Korea in retaliation for the deployment of a U.S. missile shield. The total number of Chinese tourists fell 48.3 percent on-year to 4.1 million in 2017, according to the state-run Korea Tourism Organization.

Beijing partially lifted the ban after the two nations agreed in October last year to normalize relations, but Chinese tourists have trickled in.
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