South Korea’s is set to resume the issuance of tourist visas for the first time in more than two years from 1 June 2022.
The justice ministry announced late last week that welcoming back tourists was vital to boosting the nation’s economy after relaxing most COVID-19 social distancing measures. Visas for tourism purposes had been cancelled in early 2020, reserved only for diplomats, government officials or those engaged in humanitarian efforts.
“The influx of foreign tourists will boost domestic demand and invigorate relevant industries, which will eventually help create more jobs and attract foreign talent,” said a ministry official, as quoted by Yonhap.
From 1 June, fully vaccinated individuals will be eligible to apply for a general C-3 visa which allows for stays of up to 90 days, while e-visas issued online are for “excellent talents” and group tours.
All visitors will still be required to submit a negative PCR test result obtained within 48 hours of departure or a negative RAT test result obtained within 24 hours.
The return of tourist visas will come as welcome news for Korea’s foreigner-only casino operators who have printed heavy losses since the borders slammed shut more than two years ago. Paradise Co reported a US$20 million loss in 2021 coming off a US$98 million loss in 2020, while its main rival in the space, Grand Korea Leisure, recently reported a US$94 million loss for 2021.