(2nd LD) S. Korea to refund foreign tourists for VAT on hotel bills

ditulis oleh : Jomblo Terhormat 20 Juli 2013
South Korea plans to reimburse foreign tourists for value-added tax payments on hotel bills, expand multiple-visa issuance to tourists from China and Southeast Asian nations and create a tourist police force cracking down on exorbitant prices and other irregularities, the government said Wednesday.

   These were part of a package of measures the culture, sports and tourism ministry unveiled to attract foreign tourists. The ministry reported the plans to President Park Geun-hye during a tourism promotion meeting that she presided over for the first time since taking office in February.

   "Tourism is a representative fusion industry that combines many sectors. It is also a high value added industry where we can create a number of jobs," Park said during the meeting. "I think of the tourism industry as an important new growth engine for our economy."

   Park said the government should draw up tourism policies tailored to meet specific needs of foreign tourists, try to take advantage of resources unique in Korea and boldly remove regulations impeding investment in the industry.

   Other promotion measures reported Wednesday include terminating benefits for foreigner-only souvenir shops that have long been accused of ripping off tourists, expanding the hiring of tour guides capable of speaking Chinese and other foreign languages and promoting cruise and medical tourism.

   South Korean-run cruise ships will also be allowed to open foreigner-only casinos aboard.

   The number of foreign cruise ships visiting the country has been increasing steadily from 66 in 2007 to 226 last year with the number expected to reach 443, carrying some 720,000 passengers, this year, according to the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries.

   To attract more foreign cruise ships, the government will increase the number of cruise ship-only berths at the country's seaports from the current three to 12 by 2020, the ministry said in a press release.

   The government will also expand its on-board immigration services, as well as its visa-free entry program for Chinese passengers of cruise ships for up to three days.

   Such efforts will boost the number of foreign tourists visiting the country via cruise ships to 1 million in 2015 and 2 million in 2020, the ministry said.

   South Korea earned US$14.2 billion in tourism revenue last year by attracting about 11 million foreigners. Through the tourism promotion measures, the government aims to raise the yearly tourism revenue to $24 billion by 2017 by attracting some 16 million foreign visitors to the country.

   The number of tourism-related jobs is also expected to rise to 1 million from the current 850,000, it said.

   "We have to address inconveniences from the perspective of tourists and push forward tourism as the core of the service industry," Culture Minister Yoo Jin-ryong said in the report to Park. "By faithfully and effectively carrying out the tasks reported today, we will make South Korea a country that foreign guests want to visit again.

Source : http://english.yonhapnews.co.kr/national/2013/07/17/85/0301000000AEN20130717004552315F.HTML

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