The Chinese government issued the guidelines at the meetings with the local travel agencies on November 27th and November 28th to allow the travel to South Korea through group visas.
In the individual visa application, Chinese tourists pay a processing fee and apply for review and issuance by South Korean government offices in China – group visas are issued when a travel agency recruits three or more tourists as part of a group, which is reported to the South Korean Ministry of Justice and China National Tourism Administration (CNTA).
The individual visas are issued for short-terms of 90 days and less and carry a standard issuance fee of 280 yuan (US$42), while group visas are subjected to a processing fee waiver system that the South Korean government has extended to next year from it’s originally scheduled end date in late 2017 in a bid to attract tourists.
There are the travel agencies in China that have been subject to a halt to all sales of group tourism packages to South Korea since March 15, immediately after full-scale THAAD equipment delivery and deployment began.
During March 2017, the Chinese authorities summoned all the local travel agencies to report a ban on South Korea travel – although the orders were only given unofficially without leaving a paper trail, and the government did not officially acknowledge involvement.
As of now, the travel industry in China and south Korea is welcoming the change made by the Chinese government, reactivating a network of linked businesses within South Korea that had been all but shut down.
The lifting of the travel ban from China to South Korea is subject to some restrictions. To begin with, it only applies to group travel from Beijing and Shandong Province, while departures from other locations are reportedly still disallowed, along with any itinerary related to the Lotte Group, charter flights, passenger airlines and cruises.
The global tourism industry observers predict that the tour group departures from other locations will be phased back in.