Gov’t relaxes visa requisites for Chinese tourists

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Gov’t relaxes visa requisites for Chinese tourists

In a move to attract more tourists from China, the Korean Ministry of Justice announced Wednesday that it will lower the bar in issuing multiple-entry visas and for the first time launch a new 10-year visa for certain Chinese professionals.

According to the ministry, from today, the age for issuing multiple-entry visas will be lowered from 60 to 55 years old, and the length of sojourn for each visit will be increased from 30 to 90 days.

It will also launch for the first time 10-year multiple-entry visas for lawyers, professors, heads of public and private companies or professionals or experts who hold higher than a master’s degree.

The new requirements are expected to make some 80 million Chinese nationals eligible for multiple-entry visas to Korea, with the extended sojourn period believed to enable them to experience Korean culture more freely, the ministry said.

The ministry will additionally waive fees for tourist group visas until the end of the year and plans to launch a “Hallyu Visa” - an initiative to attract tourists through the promotion of the Korean Wave, fashion and culture - in the latter half of the year.

The number of Chinese tourists to Korea peaked at 6.127 million people in 2014 and decreased slightly to 5.984 million last year, according to the Korea Tourism Organization.

The country aims to attract some 8 million Chinese tourists this year, according to the government.

Six new air routes will be launched between Korea and China, starting from February, as a part of this target.

“Following the outbreak of the Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) last year, foreign tourists temporarily sharply declined, so the Justice Ministry considerably lowered the entry bar for Chinese tourists ... through which we were able to raise the number of foreign tourists to the country to levels seen the previous year,” a Justice Ministry official said.

“We expect demand for Chinese tourists to Korea to continue to grow in the long term.”

BY SARAH KIM [kim.sarah@joongang.co.kr]

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