Hotel VAT in Korea suspended

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SEOUL, South Korea -- Korea suspended the 10% value added tax on hotel room rates through December 2002.

The move was designed to boost travel to Korea during this year's national tourism campaign, "Visit Korea Year," and next year's World Cup soccer tournament.

"This represents greater savings for visitors to Korea on top of our already excellent exchange rate," said Kwang-Ho Kang, director of the Korea National Tourism Organization's New York office. The exchange rate is nearly 1,300 Korean won to the U.S. dollar.

Kang said that with the VAT suspension, favorable exchange rate and "Visit Korea Year" discounts, Korea offers U.S. visitors some of the most competitive prices in the region.

U.S. leisure visitors typically spend two weeks touring Korea, while business travelers spend about one week, according to the tourism organization.

Despite record occupancies and rates, Korea's upscale hotels are still considered a bargain compared to luxury hotel prices elsewhere in the region.

At the upscale Shilla in Seoul, for example, the average daily room rate during the high season (April through June and September and October) is $175. Hotel occupancy averaged 81% last year.

Some 37 U.S. and international tour operators are offering packages during the "Visit Korea Year" campaign.

For additional information on the "Visit Korea Year" promotion and participating operators, call (800) TOUR-KOREA.

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