South Korea on Thursday said it would from June 1 resume issuing short-term tourism visas for trips to the country’s mainland, for individual visitors and groups of tourists.
Permits for independent travellers are known as C-3 visas, and those for groups can be electronically issued and are known as eVisas.
The nation’s semi-autonomous holiday island of Jeju stated earlier this month it would resume visa-free travel for certain foreign passport holders on June 1.
In pre-pandemic trading times, the country’s casino industry – located on Jeju as well as on the South Korean peninsula – had earned a large portion of its earnings from foreign tourists.
South Korea’s Ministry of Justice said in the Thursday announcement, that the peninsula’s visa-scheme resumption was to boost respectively, inbound tourism, consumer consumption in tourism-related industries, and domestic-consumer consumption.
Currently the country has been issuing C-3 visas on a limited basis, for essential purposes. The eVisa scheme has been suspended since April 2020, as a health and safety measure amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
Countries designated by the South Korean quarantine authorities as “Level 1” – i.e., low-risk for Covid-19 transmission – would be able to apply for such Korean peninsula visas, said the ministry.
A ministry spokesman said in response to GGRAsia’s enquiry, that passport holders of China and Russia were eligible for the resumed visa scheme. In pre-pandemic times, Chinese customers have been a key element of the casino market, show data from some foreigner-only casino operators.
Grounds for C-3 visa issuance – for a stay of up to 90 days – included tourism, business trips, medical treatment, the visiting of relatives, and conference attendance, said the ministry.
eVisas would be available for tourist groups, people with “superior” skills required by the country’s economy, or those seeking medical attention.
Foreigners who had previously been given a South Korean multiple-entry visa for short trips, and had received such a visa prior to April 5, 2020, would have it automatically reactivated after June 1. That was provided such visa still had validity relative to its original expiry date.
The ministry noted that visa policy could be subject to further change, depending on Covid-19 pandemic conditions.
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