INCHEON AIRPORT, South Korea’s main gateway, is one of the best airports in the world and one of the most Instagrammed. In fact, it has proved to be most popular among traveling #wanderlusters with over a million posts.
As well as innovative facilities, Incheon Airport also offers travelers immersive cultural workshops and exhibitions in two areas near the duty-free zone. Outbound travelers can learn how to make hanji (traditional Korean paper), among other activities, all free of charge.
And now, it has stepped up its game to win over the hearts of travelers even more.
As a true reflection of the capital city of Seoul being a shopaholic’s paradise, Incheon Airport has opened its first arrival duty-free shops. Two new duty-free shops opened Friday at the arrival terminals for passengers landing, according to The Korea Herald. They are located near baggage claim in Terminal 1 and one in Terminal 2.
The SM Duty Free-operated shops will offer products of 10 categories including cosmetics, perfumes, fashion items, electronic goods, toys, K-Pop albums, alcoholic beverages, and more. Cigarettes (a duty-free mainstay), agricultural and processed meat products, however, are not available.
“The launch of on-arrival duty-free shops is a good example of the Moon Jae-in government’s deregulatory efforts,” The Korea Herald quoted Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki as saying 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.”
On top of giving travelers a chance to shop till they drop from the moment they land, the duty-free shops will also create around 600 new jobs, both directly and indirectly, boost domestic spending, and add US$29.1 million to the balance of payments account, according to the fiscal policymaker.
On-arrival duty-free shops are not new to airports in the Asia-Pacific region. To date, on-arrival duty-free shops are operated in 149 airports in 73 countries including Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, and China.
South Korea has been mulling over the idea of on-arrival duty-free shops since the country’s National Assembly in 2003. However, the rollout was delayed due to concerns over congestion and complaints from airlines that sell duty-free products onboard.
The concept was brought up again after travelers complained about the inconvenience of lugging around duty-free purchases bought before leaving Korea while going abroad. Additionally, a survey by the Korea Development Institute showed that 81.2 percent of respondents agreed with the need for on-arrival duty-free shops.