Filipinos deterred from travelling to South Korea due to visa application issues

South Korea is one of the top destinations for Filipinos, yet many travellers who already have flight or hotel bookings are unable to secure their visas on time, due to the drastic changes in the application process.

As a result, tour packages from the Philippines to South Korea are being pulled out and cancelled. Instead, outbound travellers are now switching to other destinations for their holidays.

Filipino travellers are now switching to other destinations instead of South Korea because of visa application issues

Since January 3, the Republic of Korea embassy in the Philippines has abolished the accreditation of 36 travel agencies, which were exclusively authorised to submit visa applications on behalf of individual applicants.

South Korea’s embassy in Manila is inundated with complaints from travellers. It did not explain why it resorted to visa application measures and did not heed dialogues requested by certain travel agencies.

While all travel agencies can now submit visa applications, all applications (including individual) must be channelled solely to the Online Visa Appointment System.

Even then, there is only one day available – the last Thursday of the month – to get a slot for the following month, and with tens of thousands racing to get a slot for that one day, this resulted in the online system either crashing, hanging or timing out.

Some agencies, like Luxury Vacation Holidays and Tours, were forced to pull out their South Korea tour packages. Its general manager, Kane Malvin Hui, said airlines like Cebu Pacific are not providing refunds, but allow rebooking of flights.

Hui said those who wish to travel to South Korea can opt for Jeju and Yang Yang, which do not require a visa, unlike Seoul.

He added that outbound travellers are now heading to Japan instead, which has simpler visa requirements. Other choice destinations include Singapore, Bangkok, Hong Kong, Europe and Turkey.

Asiareps Travel Services, general manager, Ritchie Tuano also said that travel agents are diverting traffic to destinations that do not require a visa or where the visa can be easily obtained.

“Even travellers who DIY are having second thoughts (about) considering South Korea as a destination due to the difficulty in getting (an) appointment slot,” he added.

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