Many local tour operators remain concerned, following the recent disappearance of 164 Vietnamese students in South Korea, that the country would tighten visa requirements for Vietnamese citizens.
An event promotes South Korean tourism in HCMC. South Korean consular agencies are taking measures to shorten visa processing procedures and increase the number of Vietnamese accredited travel firms
However, the South Korean tourism authority has said the visa policy remains unchanged, and consular agencies are taking measures to reduce visa processing time, while increasing the number of travel firms accredited to process South Korean visas for their customers.
The South Korean Embassy in Vietnam announced that there are no changes in visa requirements for Vietnamese tourists. Vietnamese citizens can apply for visas themselves or via other channels, such as travel agencies or accredited tour operators, according to the Korea Tourism Organization (KTO) in Vietnam.
As the volume of visa applicants to South Korea has skyrocketed, the wait has lengthened for visa application procedures to be completed. Accordingly, consular agencies have sought to streamline visa procedures, in addition to trimming visa processing time, as well as increasing the number of accredited tour operators.
Currently, there are 35 Vietnamese travel companies accredited by South Korea, including 20 in HCMC and 15 in Hanoi. According to KTO Vietnam, it takes each tourist five days to apply for a visa via accredited firms, and 11 days if they apply for visas themselves or through non-accredited units.
Several days ago, the South Korean Embassy in Vietnam announced that they are seeking to increase the number of accredited agencies. Travel firms with tour groups of over 300 visa applicants to South Korea in August, September and October are eligible to apply for accreditation to acquire visas.
Vietnam is one of South Korea’s largest tourism source markets. The number of Vietnamese visitors to this East Asian nation is expected to reach 550,000 arrivals by the end of the year, a 20% year-on-year increase.
Meanwhile, South Korean police are continuing to search for 164 Vietnamese students from Incheon National University’s Korean language school after they did not attend class for 15 days, reported The Korea Times.
They were among 1,900 Vietnamese students enrolled in a one-year Korean language training program, which began four months ago at the South Korea-based university, according to the source. SGT