South Korea considering visa on arrival for Indians: Envoy
New Delhi: South Korea is considering visa on arrival for Indian tourists after its nationals were extended a fast-track electronic travel permit by New Delhi earlier this year. South Koreans account for a fifth of e-visa recipients for India.
Speaking to IANS, South Korea's Ambassador to India Joon-gyu Lee said Seoul was closely looking at a scheme for Indians similar to that India extends to their nationals. "While doing so we will do our best to improve the visa issuing process to facilitate and speed it up," he said.
India's decision on e-visa for South Koreans has seen an exponential rise in visitors from that country. "I believe that the visa-on-arrival scheme provided for our citizens is contributing a lot in increasing the number of Korean tourists into India," the envoy said.
The Indian government extends its electronic travel authorization (ETA) scheme to 76 countries. Official data shows that in January, inflow of tourists from the Republic of Korea constituted 18.26 percent of the total arrivals using the facility.
Its nationals were its second largest users after the US, Russia, Ukraine and Australia.
Data with the Indian embassy in Seoul, shows that more than 100,000 Koreans visited India in 2013 to mainly visit the Taj Mahal in Agra, Jaipur and various Buddhist sites. Agra, Jaipur and Delhi form what is called the golden triangle of Indian tourism, accounting for 40 percent of tourists.
"The visa-on-arrival has definitely eased the travelling for South Korean nationals. Of course, a similar scheme for Indians will create an impact in the inflow of tourists to Korea," said Byungsun Lee, director with the Korea Tourism Office in India, told IANS.
Lately, there has been a 20 percent increase in Indian visitors to South Korea. As per official data, 147,736 Indians went to the East Asian nation in 2014, up from 123,235 visitors in the year before.