South Korea has announced that nationals of 12 European countries, including Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Austria, France, Norway, Poland, Spain, and Sweden, will remain eligible for free travel to the country until December 31, 2024. This means that they will not require a Korean Electronic Travel Authorisation (K-ETA) to travel to South Korea. The service of applying for a K-ETA will still be available for those who prefer to use it. This decision has been made as part of the Visit Korea Year (2023~2024) celebrations, and the country is hoping to improve connectivity between regions, making travelling more convenient.
Additionally, from April 1, 2023, South Korea will temporarily extend travel exemptions for citizens of 22 regions under the K-ETA system, which will last until December 31, 2024. The exemption for travel authorization applies to nationals of Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Japan, Macao, New Zealand, Singapore, Taiwan, the UK, and the US. Last year, South Korea exempted nationals of eight countries, including Solomon Islands, Japan, Micronesia, Kiribati, Tango, Taiwan, and Samoa, from the requirement of presenting a travel authorization.
The travel and tourism industry in South Korea generates significant income, making up 4.16% of the country’s GDP in 2019. The country is a popular destination for Asian tourists, with 17.5 million tourists visiting the country in 2019, indicating constant increases in the number of tourists every year. The top nationalities to visit South Korea include China, which is the primary market of international tourists to the country, followed by Japan, Taipei, the United States, and Hong Kong.
The Prague Convention Bureau has also revealed that Vaclav Havel Airport will add 11 new flights, including two long-haul routes to Taiwan and Seoul, indicating efforts to improve connectivity between the EU and South Korea. Despite the lack of destinations served in Ukraine and Russia, Prague Airport will offer passengers more connections compared to the previous summer season. In 2019, there were flights from Prague to 190 destinations, and both regions are determined to improve connectivity, making travelling between destinations more convenient. South Koreans usually travel to China, Japan, and Vietnam, followed by other Asian countries, indicating that they keep tourism and travelling within the region.