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Korea plans Visa on Arrival for Indians

May 19, 2006 02:33 IST

Republic of Korea is considering to issue Visa-on-Arrival to Indians.

Expanding trade relations with India and increased growth of Indian tourists to Korea are the factors responsible for the consideration.

South Korean Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Ban-ki Moon had recently told the Korean media about granting VOA to Indian businessmen. Steps have been already initiated for easing visa restrictions, he said.

However, the Korean Tourism Organisation wants to couple the VOA to the Indian tourists as well.

"We are strongly lobbying for providing visa-on-arrival to Indians. Korea is also considering VOA to visitors from Japan and China. The three countries are expected to generate maximum inbound tourists to Korea," said Hyo Sik, Jeon, director, KTO.

Right now, an Indian has to wait for at least a week for getting visa to Korea from Mumbai and Delhi.

Over 55,000 Indians have visited Korea during 2005, which is growing at an annual rate of 20 per cent.

"More than 10 per cent of the 55,000 Indians visiting Korea are employees from companies like Hyundai, LG, Samsung and Posco," said Hyo Sik, Jeon. Posco is in the process of setting up a 12-million tonne steel plant in the country.

The bilateral trade volume between India and Korea has increased to $5.5 billion in 2004, from less than $1 billion in 1991. By 2008, the trade volume between India and South Korea is expected to touch $10 billion.

At present, India ranks nineteenth as a trading partner of South Korea, whereas South Korea has ranked India twelfth.

"VOA will be good for the Indian industry, particularly small businessmen, who have to take reference of a major company for easy visa clearance. On the whole, tourists will be benefited more compared to businessmen from VOA," said Arvind Saxena, vice-president, marketing and sales, Hyundai India.

 A senior Samsung India official said, "VOA will cut short a lot of procedures and save time for Indian businessmen."

Thailand, Indonesia and Hong Kong are among the countries that have offered VOA to Indians. Malaysia offers VOA to Indians who enter the country from Thailand or Singapore.

Prabodh Chandrasekhar in Mumbai