Tourists from three Southeast Asian countries can enter Korea without a visa if they arrive at Yangyang International Airport near Pyeongchang, the venue of the 2018 Winter Olympics.
The government made the announcement on Friday and said it is aimed at boosting tourism ahead of the sporting event. Tourists from Indonesia, Vietnam and the Philippines can enter Korea visa-free through the airport until April next year. The number of tourists from those three countries last year grew 45 percent compared to 2015 to 1.1 million.
The government will also waive the visa requirement for Chinese cruise passengers, while tourists from Southeast Asia who have visited other OECD member countries will be eligible for multiple-entry visas. A discount for electronic visas for Chinese group tourists will be extended until the end of 2018.
The visa waiver for individual Chinese cruise passengers aims to attract a wealthier class of tourists who, the government hopes, will spend more money here than tour groups.
Two large cruise ships dock at Sokcho near Pyeongchang during the Winter Olympics to provide around 2,200 rooms for visitors. Foreign visitors will also be able to buy rail passes to tourist spots in Gangwon Province.
Also planned is a flat rate for taxis ferrying customers to and from Incheon International Airport and Seoul. But tourism industry insiders said the measures will have only a limited impact, since visa-free benefits are limited.