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Saturday, May 23, 2015

Japan's Tourist Industry Trumps Korea's

Above, a duty-free shop at Narita International Airport. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

An interesting article on the contrasts between Korea and Japan caught my attention.

It appears that although Korea's tourism numbers are rising, they are not rising as dramatically as Japan's. One of the reasons for this is how each country handles duty-free (tax-free) goods.

According to the article in the Chosunilbo:
Tourists queued for more than 50 m to wait for their VAT refunds in front of the customs desk on the third floor of Incheon International Airport on Thursday afternoon. They only report their purchases and get a stamp there, which they then have to present at the refund window inside the departure area.  
Do other countries manage the red tape better? A Korean office worker who visited Japan last month on business, bought an Apple Watch for 50,000 yen in Shinjuku. "The store simply waived the seven-percent consumption tax for foreigners and stapled the receipt into my passport," he said. And it took just 10 seconds for a customs official at the airport to remove it.  
This is just one example of the bureaucratic hassle that has prevented the Korean tourism industry from growing as rapidly as some hoped.  
In contrast, Japan has seen a more than 40-percent rise in tourists this year. The inconvenient VAT refund process in Korea has been cited as one of the reasons why tourists think twice about returning. 
To read more, go here

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