Two new duty-free shops opened at the arrival terminals for passengers landing at Seoul’s Incheon International Airport.
SM Duty Free started operations of two stores on the first floor of Terminal 1, while Entas Duty Free opened a single store on the first floor of Terminal 2, near the baggage claim areas of each terminal, according to Korea Customs Service and the Ministry of Economy and Finance.
“The launch of on-arrival duty free shops is a good example of the Moon Jae-in government’s deregulatory efforts,” said Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki in a congratulatory speech at the opening ceremony.
“It reflects the efforts to view the market in the general public’s perspective and to ease people’s inconvenience.”
The opening of these outlets will create around 600 new jobs, both directly and indirectly, and also add 34.7 billion won ($29.1 million) to the balance of payments account, according to the fiscal policymaker.
As an initial measure to ensure fair competition, the government has limited the bids for on-arrival duty-free shops to small- and medium-sized operators, banning conglomerates such as Lotte, Shilla and Shinsegae.
Ten categories of items are sold at the new shops with an upper cap on the total value of purchases at $600. At the departure terminals, Koreans are allowed to purchase items costing up to $3,000.
Due to the low cap, the available items are mostly cosmetics, perfumes, packaged food, alcoholic beverages, fashion items, electronic goods, toys and other kid products, and K-pop albums — instead of luxury goods.
Cigarettes, a duty-free mainstay, will not be sold as also other items like fruit and processed meat products that could affect quarantine procedures.
Domestic items will take up a larger portion of the products sold compared to those at the departure terminals.
The idea of on-arrival duty-free stores was first raised in the National Assembly in 2003, but concerns over congestion and complaints from airlines that sell duty-free products onboard delayed the implementation.
But the concept was brought up again after travellers complained about having to carry duty-free purchases bought before leaving Korea while going abroad.
A survey by Korea Development Institute showed that 81.2 percent of respondents agreed with the need for on-arrival duty free shops, complaining about the inconvenience of carrying around duty-free items they purchased at the departure terminals when they traveled overseas.
On-arrival duty-free shops are operated at 149 airports in 73 countries, including Hong Kong and China.
Source: Korean Herald
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