South Korea will reportedly lift a post-arrival COVID-19 test requirement for travelers from China starting from Wednesday, with expectations that more flights between China and South Korea will be added. Experts predicted that it will still take time to see a tourism boom between the two countries as some Chinese tourists will keep a “wait-and-see” stance.
The post-arrival test requirement for travelers from China will be lifted on Wednesday as the COVID-19 situation is stable, and flights from China can land at other airports besides Incheon International Airport, Yonhap News Agency reported on Tuesday. The pre-arrival test requirement will be kept until March 10.
All the 190 travelers with short-term visas from China tested negative for COVID-19 upon arrival on Monday, which is the fifth time that zero positive cases have been reported since the post-arrival test requirement was launched for travelers from China on January 2, said the report.
Travelers from China have been required to take polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests after arriving in South Korea since early January.
“The tourism industry in South Korea is looking forward to the arrival of Chinese tourists, which will bring incentives for the sluggish economy in South Korea,” Lü Chao, an expert on the Korean Peninsula issue at the Liaoning Academy of Social Sciences told the Global Times on Tuesday.
South Korea imposed “unfair” COVID-19 testing policies for travelers from China, cooling Chinese tourists’ enthusiasm for travelling to South Korea, Lü said. “Chinese tourists actually have more choices for outbound tourism as they have seen the enthusiasm from some Southeast Asian countries,” Lü noted.
China downgraded its COVID-19 management measures from Class A to Class B and resumed cross-border travel and business starting from January 8. However, a few countries, including South Korea launched discriminatory entry restrictions for travelers from China.
China imposed its first countermeasure on January 10 toward discriminatory and unnecessary travel restrictions against travelers from China by suspending short-term visas for South Korean citizens who want to visit China.
Hopefully there will be more tourism and more people-to-people exchanges between the two countries, Lü said. However, some Chinese tourists will keep a “wait-and-see” stance, Lü noted.
On February 18, China resumed issuing short-term visas for South Korean citizens to visit China, according to the Chinese Embassy in South Korea. South Korea resumed short-term visa issuance for travelers from China on February 11.
An employee from travel agency Tuniu.com said that fights between the two countries are still limited and the number of residents searching for information related to outbound tourism toward South Korea is also limited.