South Korea mulls visa-free access for Pinoys
South Korea is studying the possibility of giving five-day visa-free access to Filipinos, GMA News' Steve Dailisan reported on 24 Oras on Tuesday.
The announcement came after Taiwan waived visa requirements for Filipino tourists looking to stay there for up to 30 days under a temporary policy that will start on June 1, 2017.
A report on ASEAN Travel said South Korea's Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism (MCST) is in discussion with "relevant authorities" regarding a five-day visa-free stay in mainland Korea for Filipinos going to Jeju Island.
South Korea is popular among Filipinos for its K-Pop and Koreanovelas.
Travel agency owner Aerianne Rivera said Filipinos often prefer to go to countries without visa requirements to avoid dealing with complicated paperwork.
"Mas magiging comfortable sa guest na mag-travel if visa-free na nga talaga siya," Rivera said.
She added that international destinations with low rates make them more attractive to Filipino tourists.
"Konting difference lang sa gastos at makakalabas na sila ng bansa. Kasama na rin yan sa ano yan, sa status ng tao na parang ah, nakalabas ako ng bansa," Rivera said.
The Department of Tourism (DOT), meanwhile, is not worried about cheaper and more accessible international destinations for tourists, noting that since January 2017, the Philippines has has already received almost 700,000 foreign tourists.
DOT Assistant Secretary Ricky Alegre said they are confident they can meet the 8-million tourist target since the country will host the ASEAN Summit this year.
He also said as part of their efforts to court more tourists from China, the DOT, the Department of Justice, the Bureau of Immigration, and the Department of Foreign Affairs are mulling giving Chinese tourists a 14-day visa upon arrival set-up.
"Thousands of visa applicants line up in our consulate in Beijing and in Shanghai. We're hoping that the easing on visa rules will be approved," Alegre said.
Lower hotel rates and cheaper flights, he added, will also help make the Philippines look more attractive to tourists.
"There is better road network to the north and flights have been affordable. Air connections have become very affordable," Alegre said.
The Philippines drew 62 million local tourists in 2016. —Rie Takumi/KBK, GMA News