Seoul to give travel funds to irregular workers

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Seoul to give travel funds to irregular workers

The city government of Seoul will offer travel vouchers to 2,000 irregular workers this year to give them time off and boost the domestic tourism industry.

The Seoul Metropolitan Government said Tuesday that it will receive applications for the new travel voucher program starting next month.

Irregular workers living in Seoul who make less than 2 million won ($1,773) a month are eligible for the program, it said.

“The program will offer travel opportunities to this group, who are giving up vacations due to their financial burden,” said the city. “It also intended to revive domestic tourism market.”

The city said the voucher will be worth 250,000 won.

Based on Statistics Korea data from 2016, the average travel expenses for a two-day domestic vacation are 390,000 won.

A special online tourism website will be opened for recipients to reserve lodging, rent cars and buy admission tickets for attractions with the vouchers.

“Actual usage will begin starting in the second half of this year,” said Joo Yong-tae, head of the tourism and sports bureau at the Seoul Metropolitan Government.

Short-term contract workers and day laborers who earn less than 2 million won a month are eligible for the program. Some other types of workers such as delivery drivers, chauffeurs, insurance planners and tutors are also eligible for the program.

The program, however, only covers a fraction of the eligible workers. The city said there are about 900,000 irregular workers with less than 2 million won in monthly income in the city, while this program will only cover 2,000.

“The central government’s vacation voucher program is a policy for mid-size company workers, so they cover regular workers,” Joo said. “The Seoul Metropolitan Government prepared this program to fill the gap for the more vulnerable population.”

The voucher system is also a part of the city’s program to boost tourism this year. This year’s policy is the first step toward implementing the city’s four-year tourism development roadmap, which will be implemented through 2023.

This year’s plan is composed of 37 projects intended to attract 32.5 million tourists to Seoul, including 13.5 million foreigners. The city’s goal is to generate over 31 trillion won in revenue for the tourism industry.

As a part of the plan, an online Seoul tourism broadcast service will be launched in March. Its pilot program will offer information on events and restaurants. The city will also develop 20 new tour routes with different themes such as gourmet eating, history and K-pop.

The city will also launch the “Discover Seoul Pass” for foreign tourists, and K-pop phenomenon BTS will be the campaign’s models. The seven-member boy band will also make a special appearance at the opening ceremony of this year’s Korean National Sports Festival.

This year’s event is the 100th annual sports championship, and Seoul is the host city.

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