South Korea adopts electronic travel authorization to avoid infectious disease
SEOUL, Aug. 11 (Reuters) – South Korea is implementing an electronic travel authorization (ETA) system for foreign visitors for the first time from September, as the forces of the COVID-19 pandemic pave the way for a policy previously opposed by the country’s tourism industry.
The Justice Department said the system would be a long-term way to preemptively prevent any contagious disease and limit the number of undocumented immigrants, which had increased in the years leading up to the pandemic.
Most visa exemptions were suspended as the pandemic worsened in April 2020.
When border controls are eased, the ETA system will be in place to help prevent the entry of infectious diseases into the country by requiring travelers to share their last two weeks of travel, Justice Minister Park Beom said. kye to Reuters in an interview.
It will also allow a rapid entry ban into a certain country if and when a contagious outbreak occurs, Park said.
“As the procedure allows foreigners wishing to enter South Korea to acquire a travel permit electronically in advance, this will be an effective method that can effectively prevent the pandemic of COVID or other variants and in the event of a ’emergence of a new type of infectious disease,’ Park said. .
A pilot program has been in place since May and the full system will be implemented on September 1. South Korea will be the fifth country to adopt an ETA, an automated system used to identify in advance the eligibility of visitors to enter the country. visa-free, Park said.
The system will help to significantly reduce customs and processing times for travelers and make it much more convenient, he added. Before traveling, visitors will need to complete an online application and pay a fee of 10,000 won ($ 8.64). An ETA will be valid for two years with multiple entries.
The implementation of ETA also comes against a background of an increase in the number of undocumented immigrants from countries benefiting from a visa waiver, which rose to 207,000 in 2019, compared to 82,000 in 2016, according to ministry data.
Under the current visa waiver program, 112 countries were originally eligible for ETA.
ETA will initially start with visitors from 49 countries including the US, UK, France and Spain.
($ 1 = 1,157 1,700 won)
Report by Sangmi Cha; Editing by Anil D’Silva
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