DestinationsSouth Korea temporarily waives K-ETA requirements for 22 visa-free locations from 1 April.

Korea makes it easier for 22 nations to enter

South Korea wants to attract 10 million tourists with visa exemptions.
South Korea wants to attract 10 million tourists with visa exemptions. Photo Credit: Adobe Stock/tawatchai1990

South Korea is temporarily exempting travellers from 22 visa-waiver nations from the K-ETA – the country's mandatory online travel permit and transit visa requirement – as part of its plan to attract 10 million international visitors this year.

The 22 nations include the United States, Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Macau, Canada, and Britain. The entry rejection rate among their nationals is quite low, according to the Ministry of Economy and Finance.

Before the pandemic, South Korea welcomed a record high of 17.5 million foreign visitors in 2019, generating tourism revenue of US$20.7 billion. However, the number of visitors dropped sharply to 2.5 million in 2020 and 967,000 in 2021 due to the pandemic. In 2022, the number of visitors increased to 3.19 million, and the country looks to boost this number further this year.

The South Korean government plans to resume transit visa exemptions for transit passengers from 34 nations, including the United States and European countries, allowing them to stay in the country for up to 30 days. It also plans to ease visa issuance for group visitors from Vietnam, the Philippines, and Indonesia, and create new visa programs for high-income foreigners and young people.

There are also plans to increase the number of international flights to pre-pandemic levels. By September, flights to and from China will be increased to 954 per week, up from the current 63 flights, and flights for Japan will be increased to 1,004 per week from the current 863 flights.

In addition to these measures, South Korea is offering various large-scale events related to K-pop, shopping, food, and other cultural items. Major K-pop concerts will take place across the country from May through October, including the Seoul Festa 2023 in April and a concert in the port city of Busan in May. More online duty-free shops will open, and discount coupons and various events will be available during the upcoming duty-free festival in May.

The government is also planning to come up with a variety of tour programmes centred on medical services, as well as major events on Korean alcoholic beverages, beef, seafood, and various foods.

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