South Korea eases travel for delegates from 22 countries

K-ETA requirement waived for visitors from 22 nations, while transit visa exemptions are now in the works.

Starting from September, there will be a significant increase in the number of weekly flights to and from China.
Starting from September, there will be a significant increase in the number of weekly flights to and from China. Photo Credit: Adobe Stock/sayan

MICE planners will find it easier to organise meetings in South Korea after the country temporarily exempted travellers from 22 visa-waiver nations from the K-ETA, which is the country's mandatory online travel permit and transit visa requirement.

This exemption includes travellers from the United States, Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Macau, Canada, and Britain, among others. The entry rejection rate among their nationals is low, making it easier for MICE attendees to enter the country.

South Korea has a proven track record of hosting successful MICE events, and its advanced technology, infrastructure, and top-notch facilities make it a top choice for MICE planners. Before the pandemic, the country welcomed a record high of 17.5 million foreign visitors in 2019, generating tourism revenue of US$20.7 billion.

To further boost its tourism industry, the South Korean government plans to resume transit visa exemptions for transit passengers from 34 nations, including the United States and European countries. The government also plans to ease visa issuance for group visitors from Vietnam, the Philippines, and Indonesia and create new visa programmes for high-income foreigners and young people.

South Korea is also offering various large-scale events related to K-pop, shopping, food, and other cultural items. Major K-pop concerts will take place across the country from May through October, including the Seoul Festa 2023 in April and a concert in the port city of Busan in May. More online duty-free shops will open, and discount coupons and various events will be available during the upcoming duty-free festival in May.

The government is also planning to come up with a variety of tour programmes centred on medical services, as well as major events on Korean alcoholic beverages, beef, seafood, and various foods. This will not only attract tourists interested in medical tourism but also those who want to experience Korean cuisine and beverages.

Furthermore, South Korea plans to increase the number of international flights to pre-pandemic levels. By September, flights to and from China will be increased to 954 per week, up from the current 63 flights, and flights for Japan will be increased to 1,004 per week from the current 863 flights.

The government's initiatives to ease travel restrictions, offer large-scale events, and increase flight connections make it an even more attractive destination for MICE planners.