South Korea will extend a visa fee-exemption scheme to Chinese group travellers until the end of 2024. An existing exemption programme on the usual US$15 fee for such travellers began in September and had been due to expire at the end of this year.
News of the initiative’s extension was given at South Korea’s 8th national tourism strategy meeting, chaired by Prime Minister Han Duck-soo (pictured centre) on Friday.
Historically, Chinese have been an important target market for South Korea’s casino industry, which consists mostly of foreigner-only venues, with only one property permitted to cater to local players. The whole trade had been affected by travel restrictions during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Friday’s tourism strategy meeting also announced that group travellers from Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam would be exempt from the equivalent fee until the end of 2024.
South Korea welcomed just over 1.54 million Chinese nationals as tourists from January to October, according to Korea Tourism Organization data.
In August, the Chinese government announced it was lifting a restriction on its citizens taking outbound group tours to certain destinations, including South Korea.
That month a total of 259,659 Chinese tourist visits – in all categories of traveller – were made to South Korea. In September the tally from China was 263,940 in September, and in October, 249,483.
From January to October this year, there were 196,898 arrivals by Indonesians, 268,354 by Filipinos, and 351,921 by Vietnamese.
The meeting also announced the government’s intention to take steps next year toward possibly lifting a ban – in place since 2016 – on certain forms of public promotion relating to casinos.