The government last Monday announced a basic plan to promote tourism, including ways to attract foreign tourists and facilitate domestic travel.
Proposed measures to this aim include expanding alternative holidays and simplifying entry procedures for foreign tourists.
Alternative holidays currently only apply to Children's Day, Lunar New Year's Day and the Chuseok thanksgiving holiday. When a holiday falls on the weekend, a regular business day is designated as an “alternative holiday”, which enables a long holiday for people to go on trips.
The standardization of a “Chuseok travel week” will also be sought as this time of the year is ideal for traveling due to the nice fall weather. A trial run this year in connection with cultural events has proven successful.
The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism will also introduce a special pass combining transportation and tourism to make domestic travel easy for Koreans.
The unlimited rail pass either for three or five days can also be charged to be used as a regular public transport pass. The pass also offers age specific benefits such as discounts in admission fees to tourist attractions.
Also, if companies and their employees jointly save for travel expenses, the government will support their travel costs.
New travel programs will be developed for youths linked to school curricula and career paths as well as for senior citizens
As for foreign visitors, visa issuance procedures will be simplified to attract more tourists.
Individual Chinese tourists visiting Korea on cruise ships will be allowed into the country visa free. Introducing an electronic visa system for group travelers from Indonesia, Vietnam and the Philippines is also under review.
Immigration affairs will be staffed with more personnel and more automated immigration kiosks will be installed for faster processing.
Marketing efforts will increase in the large U.S. and Chinese markets, while Hallyu or Korean Wave content will be utilized to draw more visitors from Southeast Asia. Korea will also target new markets such as Russia and the Middle East.
For higher profitability, the tourism sector will share ties with the medical and health industry in developing new products.
Overall, the government will seek policies centered on tourists’ demands and needs as leisure activities increase and diversify amid South Korea's aging society, and also to boost domestic spending.