Visa-free access to boost tourism between S. Korea, Cebu

Johanna O. Bajenting

FILIPINOS dreaming of going to South Korea can soon enter the country visa-free.

The Department of Tourism (DOT) 7 welcomed this move as this will boost tourist arrivals between the two countries.

DOT 7 Director Shahlimar Tamano said this would benefit Central Visayas since Koreans have been the region’s top tourist source market in the last few years.

“It will really help us. For their part, they visit us here, so we should also visit them. It should be a two-way (approach),” Tamano said.

He urged Cebuanos to use hashtags in their social media posts about Cebu to spread awareness on its latest tourist attractions as most Koreans are social media-savvy and often base their travel decisions on social media posts of the said country.

According to a post by Klook, an online travel booking platform, “Philippine passport holders will be given visa-free access to cities like Seoul, Busan and Nami Island.” However, “tourists are only permitted visa-free entry in inland areas–Seoul, Incheon and Busan–for up to five days; and that their final destination should be Jeju Island,” it read.

This is part of the country’s, “Plan for Promoting Foreign Tours,” which was revealed by South Korea’s Ministry of Strategy and Finance and the Ministry of Justice on Dec. 12, 2019.

According to Korea Tourism Organization’s website, there were 460,586 Filipinos who visited South Korea from January to November 2019, which is a 10.3 percent increase from the 417,518 Filipino tourists who visited in the same period in 2018.

The DOT 7 has yet to release its official tourist arrivals statistics for 2019.

In 2018, however, there were 1,344,154 Koreans who visited Cebu.

Koreans continue to come to Cebu for business, leisure and education. Koreans who study English intend to stay longer.

Cebuanos, on the other hand, visit South Korea to experience winter and spring seasons.

Cebu is currently connected to Incheon, Busan and Daegu through direct flights.