South Korea is set to reinstate visa-free tourism to Jeju and Yangyang starting in June, allowing foreign travelers to stay in the country legally for 30 days without a visa.
The visa-free program was first introduced in Jeju in April 2002 with the aim of attracting foreign tourists but was suspended in February 2020 due to the outbreak of Covid-19 across the globe.
According to Interior and safety minister Jeon Hae-Cheol on Wednesday, the visa-free channel will allow tourists to stay for 30 days without a visa, though they will be restricted to Jeju, or if they travel to Yangyang – the Gangwon and the Seoul Metropolitan area.
Small tour groups are also expected to restart in June, with tour groups of five or more people being allowed to travel to either Gangwon or the Seoul Metropolitan area for 15 days without a visa.
It’s much welcome news for South Korea’s foreigner-only casinos – including Jeju Shinhwa World, Jeju Dream Tower, Paradise Jeju Casino on the island, Paradise Walkerhill Casino, Seven Luck Casino Gangbuk, Seven Luck Casino Gangnam in Seoul, and locals-permitted casino Kangwon Land in Gangwon.
The program, however, comes with some exclusions.
According to local reports, 24 countries are not qualified for visa-free travel, including Iran, Sudan, Syria, Macedonia, Cuba, Kosovo, Palestine, Afghanistan, Iraq, Ghana, Nigeria, Yemen, Egypt, Gambia, Senegal, Bangladesh, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Somalia, Uzbekistan, Nepal, Cameroon, Sri Lanka, and Myanmar.
Another ten countries, including Japan, Hong Kong, and Taiwan have also been excluded from the system due to their own continued suspension of visa-free travel for South Koreans.
The tour group visa-free travel scheme is at the moment only open to three countries, Vietnam, the Philippines, and Indonesia.
“We hope Jeju tourism will be invigorated soon with [the expansion of] international flights along with the resumption of the visa-free entry system,” the Jeju Tourism Association wrote in a press release Wednesday.