South Korea Casinos To Accept More Asian Tourists Through Relaxed Travel Rules

The number of COVID-19 cases in South Korea is on the rise, increasing 400% in the past month. However, this isn’t going to stop the country from accepting travelers from certain Asian countries as it looks to reinvigorate its casino industry.

Lotte Tower in Seoul, South Korea takes the center of the skyline. The country is relaxing inbound travel rules, which could benefit its casinos. (Image: Pinterest)

South Korea began lifting COVID-19 travel restrictions in March, even as variations of the coronavirus still threatened the country. Now, it is relaxing visa requirements for entry, according to local media outlet Yonhap News Agency.

The relaxed protocols apply to individuals who hold travel documents from Japan, Taiwan or Macau. For now, these travelers can enter the country without having to request a visa ahead of their trips.

More Traffic for South Korea Casinos

South Korea has 17 casinos, all but one of which are only open to foreigners. As a result, the more difficult it is for international travelers to arrive, the less activity they see on their gaming floors.

For now, travelers from the three locations who want to visit the country will need to apply for permission to enter online. They must complete the process using South Korea’s Electronic Travel Authorization online portal, and need to submit their applications at least 72 hours in advance.

For the past two months, the country has permitted tourists, whether traveling individually or in groups, to receive a short-term travel visa if visiting the mainland. Individuals have had to apply for the visa in person, while groups could file their requests electronically. The electronic visa system stopped in April of last year in an effort to control the spread of COVID-19.

Johns Hopkins University data shows that the coronavirus continues to be a threat in South Korea, just like it is in Macau and other places. The most recent data indicates that there were 107,849 new cases on August 3.

This is a significant increase on the 18,133 from July 4. The seven-day average has jumped from just over 10,000 to a little more than 89,000.

Ulterior Motives for the Change

The timing of the change is intentional. An upcoming festival could be an opportunity for South Korea to inject more revenue into its economy, and strict travel protocols would have made this more difficult.

From August 10-14, Seoul will host the Seoul Festa 2022. It will be the first major festival in the country since COVID-19 first appeared. The implementation of visa-free travel will hopefully draw a larger crowd.

Seoul tourism declined over the past three years following the COVID-19 outbreak. With Seoul Festa 2022, however, we look forward to kick-starting Korea’s tourism industry and boosting the city to become one of the top 5 global cities,” said an official with the South Korean Tourism Police Division.

The festival has a jam-packed schedule of activity across its five days. One of the highlights will be the opening ceremony, which include performances by more than a dozen K-pop (Korean popular music) bands. The ceremony sold out less than five minutes after tickets went on sale.

Another big draw is the Hana Bank Seoul E-Prix, an electric car race and part of the Asian Formula E World Championship. The race includes teams from around the world, including the US, France, Germany, Monaco and others, battling for the win on the 1.5-mile course.

Unlike most car races, this one will have one major difference. Race fans enjoy the sound of the cars as they whiz by at neck-breaking speeds. Since these cars are electric, an eerie silence will accompany the drafts.

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