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South Korea to Boost Tax Refund Limits for Foreign Tourists in 2024

Seoul, South Korea – South Korea is set to increase the limits on purchases eligible for immediate tax refunds for foreign tourists, a move aimed at attracting more visitors and revitalizing the tourism industry.

According to Philippines News Agency, starting January 1, 2024, the maximum limit for an on-the-spot tax refund for individual purchases at designated stores will be raised from the current 500,000 won to 1 million won. Additionally, the total cap on payments eligible for tax refunds will be doubled from 2.5 million won to 5 million won. Finance Minister Choo Kyung-ho, during an emergency economy-related ministers' meeting, stated that this initiative is designed to encourage shopping by foreign tourists and boost the tourism sector. At departure halls, there are no restrictions on the amount eligible for tax refunds.

The country has seen a significant increase in overseas visitors in the first half of this year, with 4.43 million tourists, more than quintupling the number from a year earlier, following a decline due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In comparison, South Korea welcomed around 3.2 million foreign tourists in 2022, down from 17.5 million in 2019. Culture Minister Yu In-chon earlier this month expressed the country's ambition to attract 20 million foreign visitors by the end of next year, with the government planning various content and programs for them.

In addition to tourism-related measures, Choo urged the National Assembly to revise the Serious Accidents Punishment Act to provide a grace period for smaller companies. The Act, effective since January 2022, currently applies to firms with 50 or more workers, with businesses having fewer than 50 employees scheduled to be subject to the regulation from next year. Choo emphasized the need for more time for smaller companies to prepare for the regulation, committing to additional measures to prevent industrial accidents and enhance safety management capabilities in smaller firms.