Korea to streamline entry procedures for tourists to revitalize tourism

By Park Sae-jin Posted : June 17, 2024, 14:31 Updated : June 17, 2024, 14:35
Foreign tourists visit the Gyeongbokggung Palace in central Seoul on June 13 Yonhap Photo
Foreign tourists stroll at Gyeongbokgung Palace in central Seoul on June 13. Yonhap

SEOUL, June 17 (AJU PRESS) - In a bid to attract more tourists and boost revenue, the government Monday announced a series of plans to simplify entry procedures and enhance travel conveniences for foreign travelers. 

Korea's tourism industry was severely impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, with the number of foreign visitors plummeting from 17.5 million in 2019 to 970,000 in 2021. Thanks to the increasing popularity of K-pop and Korean dramas in the global market, tourism is slightly recovering, attracting about 11 million foreign visitors last year. 

However, tourism revenues dropped from $20.7 billion in 2019 to $10.6 billion in 2021. Despite a slight rise to $15.1 billion in 2023, the recovery has been slower, compared to the increase in tourist numbers. This looks to be partly because many foreign travelers now prefer cultural experiences over shopping.

The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism said that such trend should be considered when coming up with plans to boost tourism.

One of the plans is to minimize inconvenience in immigration by speeding up the process of visa issuance. More travelers will benefit from an electronic travel permit, previously limited to packaged group tourists.

The ministry is also considering a "digital nomad visa" for those who work remotely while traveling freely to different locations. This special visa program aims to boost tourism in provincial areas, encouraging visitors to explore destinations beyond the capital city.

Fast-track immigration screening will be available for MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences, and exhibitions) travelers. Additionally, an unmanned digital immigration service will be introduced for cruise ship travelers to help them maximize their stay in Korea.

The plans also include the increased flight routes from provincial cities to major international destinations. A new transport service for baggage will also allow travelers to send their luggage from train stations to their hotels, making it easier for them to travel without carrying heavy bags.
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