Dylan Amirio, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | World | Fri, July 03 2015, 8:15 AM
The South Korean Embassy in Jakarta has said it will waive the visa application fee for Indonesian travelers planning to go to South Korea between July and September, in a bid to boost tourist numbers hit by the Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) health scare.
According to Korea Tourism Organization (KTO) director Oh Hyonjae, the waiver will apply for three months starting July 6 and ending Sept. 30, allowing prospective Indonesian travelers to apply for a two-week single-entry visa free of charge.
Previously, the application fee for a South Korean single-entry tourist visa was Rp 520,000 [US$38]. The promotion will only be valid for those planning to travel within the three-month period.
“We have been told by Seoul that Indonesia is one of the countries that will receive the visa application fee waiver. The reason for this is to boost tourist numbers to South Korea, which have been in decline since news broke of the MERS outbreak,” Oh told The Jakarta Post on Wednesday.
He explained that since the outbreak of the MERS virus in South Korea in May, around 130,000 foreign visitors had canceled their trips to the country, around 2,000 of whom were Indonesian travelers.
Despite the outbreak, Oh insisted that foreign travelers would not be affected by the virus, saying that the spread was being controlled by the government to be concentrated only in hospitals.
“About 1,090,000 foreign tourists visited South Korea over the last month and they were all safe from the disease,” he added.
Other countries affected by the visa fee waiver include China, the Philippines, Vietnam and Cambodia, all among the largest tourist markets for South Korea.
Korean Ambassador to Indonesia Cho Taiyoung, meanwhile, said that no new MERS cases had been reported in the country in the four days previous to July 1, and if the situation continued as it was going, the Korean government would soon announce the country free of MERS.
“I cannot be sure of the exact date of the announcement or when MERS will be confirmed to be completely eradicated, but the government has said it plans to announce it,” he said on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, South Korea on Thursday reported a new case of the potentially deadly MERS virus, after four days in which no cases were spotted.
It brought to 183 the total number of people diagnosed with MERS in the largest outbreak outside Saudi Arabia. Agence France-Presse reported that the latest case involved a nurse from Seoul’s Samsung Medical Center, the Health Ministry said.
The hospital, which has so far accounted for almost half of all confirmed cases, declared a 10-day suspension of most health services last month to stem the spread of the virus.
As the hospital continued to report new cases, the shutdown was extended indefinitely. Of the 183 confirmed cases, 33 have died, 102 have been cured and released from hospital and 48 are still being treated, with 12 of them listed as being in critical condition. – See more at: Source