By Jonathan M. Hicap
Filipinos and other Southeast Asian tourists will soon be able to visit South Korea easily under special conditions.
Philippine Ambassador to Korea Raul Hernandez said that the Philippines is included in the plan of the Korean government to issue electronic visas and allow visa-free stay in mainland Korea for five days to Southeast Asian nationals who are visiting Jeju Island via Incheon or Gimhae airports in order to boost its tourism industry.
“Yes, the Philippines is one of the beneficiaries but only selected tour agencies are included in the program,” he told Manila Bulletin. “But based on the latest info, they are still working on the guide for implementation.”
In an email to Manila Bulletin, Korea’s Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism (MCST) said it “is still in discussion with relevant authorities such as the Ministry of Justice on this matter, but hopes to implement the detailed plan within May of this year.”
“It is true that at the moment, the Philippines, Vietnam, and Indonesia among the Southeast Asian countries are being considered to be included in the electronic visa program,” it added.
Under the electronic visa program, the MCST said, “group tourists will not have to go to the Korean Embassy to get a visa, if your country is eligible for electronic visa, since it can be issued through the accredited travel agency.”
On the other hand, the five-day visa-free entry scheme for group tourists from Southeast Asia will be implemented starting in June.
Under this, those who are bound for Jeju Island but with connecting flights at Incheon or Gimhae Airports will be allowed to enter mainland Korea for five days without a visa.