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. Infectious rates rose 400% in the past month. But the country is continuing to loosen up on travel restrictions.

Lotte Tower in Seoul, South Korea
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)

The country is relaxing protocols for individuals who hold travel documents from Japan, Taiwan or Macau, according to local media outlet Yonhap News Agency. These travelers can now enter the country without requesting a visa ahead of their trips.

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.

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.

COVID Concerns

Johns Hopkins University data shows that the coronavirus continues to be a threat in South Korea, just like 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 from the 18,133 on July 4. The seven-day average has jumped from just over 10,000 to a little more than 89,000.

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 to control the spread of COVID-19.

South Korea began lifting COVID-19 travel restrictions in March, even as variations of the coronavirus still threatened the country.

Soul Festa Looks to Boost Economy

The limited protocols come in time for an upcoming festival. 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’s five days feature performances by more than a dozen K-pop (Korean popular music) bands. It will also feature 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.

The ceremony sold out less than five minutes after tickets went on sale.

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