July 18, 2013 13:51
Foreign tourists will be able to enjoy a 10-percent discount in Korean hotels from next year, and a tourist police will be introduced in October to crack down on nuisances for visitors.
According to the plans announced by the government on Wednesday, foreign tourists will be entitled to a 10-percent VAT refund on hotel bills at the airport or port from early next year. The scheme will be test-run for one year.
The aim is to attract Japanese tourists, whose numbers has dwindled drastically due to weak yen and sour relations between Korea and Japan over territorial and other issues.
The deficit in Korea's tourism industry against Japan in the first five months of this year was US$1.6 billion, 11 times greater than a year ago.
Also, multiple entry visa will be issued to many more Chinese nationals to promote tourism in Korea. About 3,000 people including spouses and children of Chinese nationals who already have a multiple entry visa for Korea, residents of Beijing or Shanghai, or students at 112 universities chosen by the Chinese government will benefit.
There was a 17-percent increase in the number of Chinese traveling abroad last year, and their spending soared by 40 percent to $102 billion.
Visa requirements for Southeast Asians will also be eased, giving those who have visited Korea before and without a history of illegal overstay a 30-day multiple-entry visa.
The government will set up a separate 100-man tourist police under the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency in October this year, and expand it to Busan and Incheon later. They will patrol tourist sites such as Myeong-dong, Insa-dong, Dongdaemun Market, and Itaewon, and crack down on overcharging, illegal taxis and unlicensed tourist guides.
Casinos exclusively for foreigners will be allowed to open on Korean cruise ships.
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