Submit Press release  eTN Team ·  Advertising  ·  eTN Awards  - Worldtourism Events    

South Korea

Chinese tourists to get visa waiver

Nov 23, 2009

The government is pursuing a visa waiver program with China for tourists staying for up to 30 days, as part of a campaign to boost the local tourism industry.

In addition, policymakers discussed the adoption of a five-day school week beginning next year, ditching the current system in which schools are open every other Saturday.

The moves come as part of plans to triple the size of the tourism market by 2020, which was discussed in a meeting overseen by President Lee Myung-bak, Friday, in Pyeongchang, Gangwon Province.

The government seeks to attract 20 million tourists annually by 2020, three times more than the current annual number.

Last year, over 45 million people from China travelled overseas, of whom about 1.2 million visited Korea. Nearly four million Koreans went to China. Korea's Jeju Island saw its number of Chinese tourists increase five-fold from 2005 after it set up a visa waiver program.

In order to prevent illegal immigration and other side effects, no-visa entry will most likely be limited, giving priority to Chinese who have visited Korea more than three times or have a history of traveling to Europe and other developed countries.

Despite the overall downturn in the global tourism market, Korea saw the number of foreign tourists increase 15 percent from last year, creating a tourism trade surplus of $320 million between January and September.

This has been attributed to favorable exchange rates, relaxation of tourism industry regulations, stronger overseas marketing and the revitalization of the Korean wave (hallyu), as well as increased efforts by the government.

However, Culture Minister Yu In-chon said that key underlying factors must be addressed ― such as promoting tourism within the country among Koreans and developing infrastructure ― before reaching out to foreign tourists.

To this end, societal needs must be addressed so that Korean nationals can enjoy tourism. One such measure is to improve existing regulations concerning national holidays and vacations for workers and students.

Primary and secondary school students may soon be able to enjoy spring and autumn breaks in addition to their summer and winter vacations.

The physically disabled and low-income groups will be encouraged to participate in tourist activities via special travel vouchers, buses and guides fluent in sign language.

Developers of tourism-oriented facilities will be able to get discounts of up to 30 percent when renting land. Also, duty free shops will be allowed in Daegu and Yeosu, where international events are slated to be held.

The campaign also plans to develop and promote 10 thematic products that represent Korea. For example, Mt. Seorak and Gyeongju, two previously popular destinations that have been losing prominence in recent years, will be revamped. Important tourism areas will be given special attention when restoring cultural and historical assets, and additional youth hostels and recreational spaces will be developed.

Furthermore, safety measures will be enforced in order to prevent such accidents as the recent fire at a shooting range in Busan that claimed 11 lives, including those of seven Japanese tourists.

Chinese tourists to get visa waiver
Image via


Premium Partners