SEOUL, Dec. 16 (Korea Bizwire) – South Korea said Friday that it will issue multiple entry visas for Chinese travelers who buy expensive vacation packages, the latest in a series of Seoul’s attempts to attract rich Chinese tourists.
The government said Chinese — who purchase a travel package worth more than 3 million won (US$2,500) for three nights — will be allowed to enter South Korea freely during a five-year period. Chinese can stay up to 30 days during each entry.
The new visa program could begin as early as January, according to the government.
Currently, South Korea issues a single-entry visa for Chinese tourist groups.
The latest move demonstrated South Korea’s willingness to lure rich Chinese tourists while stopping cheap travel packages that mostly involve shopping — a practice that critics say has drawn complaints among the Chinese themselves and could undermine South Korea’s competitiveness in tourism.
South Korea has been working to develop premium travel packages for Chinese visitors.
More than 14.5 million foreigners visited South Korea in the first 10 months of the year, compared with 10.9 million from a year earlier, according to government data.
Among them, the Chinese accounted for the lion’s share with the number of its nationals surpassing 7 million, up from 5 million during the same period, it said.