Gangwon Province is seeking to allow visa-free entry for Southeast Asian tourists who enter the province via Yangyang International Airport on the east coast.
The move is apparently aimed at finding a breakthrough from the Southeast Asian market as China’s retaliatory measures against South Korea for the installment of the THAAD antimissile system have resulted in a sharp drop in Chinese tourists to South Korea.
The decision is also aimed at supporting Pyeongchang’s successful hosting of the 2018 Olympic Winter Games and expanding flights linking Yangyang International Airport and destinations in Southeast Asia.
To implement the visa-free entry system, the province is consulting with the Justice Ministry and the Culture, Sports and Tourism Ministry.
To address the Justice Ministry’s concerns that the new system could make way for the entry of illegal immigrants, the province plans to designate certified travel agencies to screen travelers.
Also to prevent the entry of illegal immigrants, the province plans to form and operate a joint team with the Justice Ministry, National Police Agency and the Korea Immigration Service Foundation. The team is set to monitor people coming in from the Philippines, Vietnam and Indonesia.
The province is seeking to put in place the visa-free entry system for six months starting from November first.