Korea Tourism Organization (KTO) India, the tourism arm of the Republic of Korea under the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, has announced the re-opening of South Korea to Indian travellers. A host of recently announced significant initiatives by KTO India will enable more tourists from India to access South Korea’s luxury market, business leisure activities and learning experiences.
With more than 130 unique activities and experiences, the country offers something for everyone. While Jeju Island and Gyeongju are tourist favourites for their scenic beauty and traditional charms, metro cities such as Seoul, Busan and Incheon are ideal for business leisure trips. For luxury travellers, the organization is planning twin-city roadshows in the month of August with the participation of DMCs from Korea. The roadshows will offer a glimpse of the country’s rich culture, unique venues and culinary offerings.
Considering the rising popularity of Hallyu or the Korean wave in India, Hallyu themed filming locations and experience centres are also being developed. One such centre is the Extended Reality (XR) playground HiKR Ground in Seoul, South Korea which was recently inaugurated in July 2022. The reopening of borders will give fans of K-Pop and K-Drama a chance to explore the culture of the country they have grown to love.
Addressing a press briefing, Young-Geul Choi, Director of Korea Tourism Organisation (KTO) India, said, “We are elated to welcome travellers from India to South Korea again. In the past two years, we adopted a progressive approach towards re-opening tourism. We have further elevated traveller experience with immersive experiential centres, re-imagined tourism offerings and look forward to hosting our Indian visitors.”
To make travel more accessible, KTO has launched the Let’s Go Korea Savings Plan in association with Shinhan Bank in India. It is a Recurring Deposit scheme to help potential travellers to South Korea save up for their trip, with special interest rates and added benefits. With a minimum deposit amount of INR 2,000 per month for a year, members can avail benefits with Utazzo Travel to book their trip to Korea. The investment will act as a regular recurring deposit in case a member is unable to travel to Korea after a year.
Since 2021, KTO has also been working with School Principals across India through virtual sessions to provide students with opportunities for learning. With travel re-opening, it plans to conduct a physical event in Mumbai later this year to discuss experiential and learning experiences for students in South Korea.
Key airlines have plans in place to welcome tourists to South Korea with larger connectivity and capacity. Choi told Connected to India that they were looking forward to the rise of Indian visitors to South Korea after the increased popularity of K-Pop and K-dramas in the subcontinent in recent years.
"Our main influx of K-Pop and K-drama fans has traditionally been from Europe, Southeast Asia and China. We hope to add young people from India to the list soon," he added.
Kim Chan, General Manager (India & Bangladesh) Korean Air said, “Korean Air resumed its India operations in May 2022 and the load factor has been very positive, already more than 80% for August. We plan to roll out special fares on the Delhi/Incheon route around Diwali. If things happen as we anticipate, we will soon have more flights on the India - South Korea route.”
Asiana Airlines is reviewing the increased demand to Korea and plans to respond with increased frequency. “Business, employment, leisure and family travel segment remains our strong focus, but surprisingly a lot of players have evinced interest in Korea for their high-end MICE movement. Currently Asiana Airlines operates two flights in a week, every Monday and Friday connecting the two capital cities of Delhi and Seoul.” Asiana Airlines Regional Manager Jung Sub Song added.
Arriving passengers will have to take a mandatory PCR test within one day of arrival. To provide hassle-free access to COVID-19 screening, test centres will be expanded to more airports across Korea. Currently, there are three test centres at Incheon International Airport and one at Gimhae International Airport.