South Korea to Launch 5-year Multiple-Entry Visas for High-End Chinese Tourists
- Posted by Christopher Ledsham
- On 19th December 2016
- jeju, shopping, south korea, visa, Visa Policy
The South Korean government will introduce a new five-year renewable visa for Chinese tourists who buy specialised four-day travel packages worth 3 million won (ca. USD 2,532) or more, allowing holders to return for stays of up to 30 days at their own leisure for the following five years.
The visa, known as the hallyu visa – referring to the Korean pop culture wave that is particular popular among Chinese consumers – is scheduled for release in January 2017, and it is anticipated that as many as 300,000 Chinese nationals will apply in 2017, with a further 700,000 applications to be made by 2020.
Following the announcement of the visa, Yoon Yang-soo, a director of international tourism at the Republic of Korea’s Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism explained: “We designed the visa to attract more affluent Chinese tourists by enhancing the quality control of tour packages”. Addressing the issues that many regional destinations had encountered with large number of low-yield travellers, he furthered that “low-cost Chinese group tours that have turned into cheap stays and forced shopping have eroded the competitiveness of the local tourism industry.”
In recent years, South Korea has rapidly become a top destination among Chinese travellers, a development that has been boosted by the government’s decision to allow visa-free access to Jeju Island for Chinese passport holders. Accordingly, it is expected that South Korea will see as many as 8 million Chinese arrivals in 2016, a figure that would represent a 33% increase of 2015’s sum of 6 million and is almost three times higher than 2012’s total of 2.8 million.
While high numbers of Chinese arrivals are a good sign of growth, they are not necessarily synonymous with high tourist receipts. Accordingly, the South Korean government has specifically developed the hallyu visa to attract higher-yield Chinese visitors, whose growing fondness for shopping trips to Korean destinations over Hong Kong it is hoped will help revive the country’s stagnating domestic economy. In spite of the fact that a number of destinations have now introduced multiple-entry visas as a means of attracting larger numbers of Chinese arrivals, South Korea’s is the first to explicitly target wealthier tourists.
Although travel packages that qualify for the new hallyu visa start at 3 million won, the Korean government has developed a range of different tours at even higher price points, involving various elements such as medical tourism options and luxury hotel breaks.
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Source: The Korea Times