By Kim Tae-jong
So I hope to see and hear from more Kababayans visiting Korea...The government will ease visa regulations for tourists from 11 South Asian countries from April 1 to attract more visitors.
Under the more lenient new rules, tourist visa applicants from the countries will be required to submit fewer documents to prove their economic and employment status, the Ministry of Justice said Tuesday.
At the same time, groups of tourists can receive visas without submitting personal documents separately if local tour agencies can guarantee their status as a whole.
It will also be less complicated to apply for “double-entry” visas, which allow tourists to enter the country a second time within six months for either tourism or a brief visit between overseas trips.
They are currently issued only to very wealthy people and valid for one year, according to the ministry.
The validity of the double-entry visas will be extended to three years, if they earn over $10,000 a year, are a pension recipient, have a profession such as journalist or doctor, hold a Korean university diploma or have a family member living in Korea as a migrant husband or wife.
“The move aims to attract more tourists from South Asian countries that already account for a large portion of the international tourists here,” said Kim Do-kyun, official from the Ministry of Justice. “We’ll gradually ease other visa regulations to encourage more international tourists under more convenient terms.”
The 11 countries are Myanmar, Cambodia, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Laos, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Vietnam, India and Bangladesh.
The number of tourists from these nations has steadily been increasing, recording 357,932 last year, up 21.1 percent from the previous year.
The ministry, however, will monitor to see if illegal migrants take advantage of the eased regulations.
“We first amended the visa rules for the Chinese last year and we concluded there has been no major problem such as an influx of illegal migrants. We hope the new visa rules for the 11 countries will also work well without creating any trouble,” Kim said.