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Visa fee waived for Chinese tourists to Korea

Posted September. 05, 2023 08:22,   

Updated September. 05, 2023 08:22


The Korean government will temporarily waive electronic visa issuance fees (around 18,000 won) for Chinese group tourists until the end of 2023 to promote tourism. The process for duty-free shopping refunds will also be simplified.

The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism announced the ‘Plan to Promote Chinese Tourists to Korea’ at the 20th Economic Ministers’ Contingency Meeting and Export Investment Measures Meeting held on Monday. The government’s goal is to attract two million Chinese tourists this year.

The Ministry decided to increase the number of flights between Korea and China by increasing airport takeoff and landing hours, as China lifted its ban on group tours to Korea last month after more than six years of economic sanctions in retaliation against Korea's deployment of a U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-missile system. It will also allocate berths for cruises departing from China to facilitate port entry.

About 250,000 additional mobile pay affiliates widely used by the Chinese, such as WeChat Pay and Alipay, will be added in Korea. “The average spending of Chinese visitors to Korea is about 38% higher than spending of any other foreign tourists. Chinese group tours are viewed as key to promoting tourism exports,” said the Ministry.

Effective from October, VAT will be refunded immediately to tourists. Two hundred additional businesses in key tourist destinations, including beauty shops and pharmacies, will offer VAT refunds on the spot. From 2024, the minimum threshold refundable at duty-free shops will be lowered from 30,000 won to 15,000 won. The immediate refund limit will increase from 500,000 won to 700,000 won per transaction.

The government will also host a ‘Korea Tourism Roadshow’ in Beijing (Sept. 13) and Shanghai (Sept. 15-17), targeting the Chinese National Day holiday from Sept. 29 to Oct 6.

Jeong-Eun Kim kimje@donga.com