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Thursday, June 20, 2024

Seoul Metro moves to boost tourism with unlimited ride passes

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Foreign visitors pose for a photo at the platform of Itaewon Station in central Seoul. [SEOUL METRO]
Foreign visitors pose for a photo at the platform of Itaewon Station in central Seoul. [SEOUL METRO]

Seoul Metro, the operator of the capital’s subways, will offer unlimited subway passes in the second half of the year to cater to the rising number of foreign tourists in the city.

The passes will allow holders, including overseas visitors, to take limitless subway rides within a designated period.

The service comes with over 12,000 foreign tourists a day visiting the city as of this June, a nine-fold increase compared to the same period last year, according to Seoul Metro.

The metro operator plans to release two kinds of passes — a day pass and a three-day pass — given that 36.8 percent of foreign tourists in Seoul stay for four to seven days.

A day pass is expected to cost 5,600 won ($4) and a three-day pass to cost 11,800 won.

“We are still in discussion of the prices for these passes,” a spokesperson from Seoul Metro said, adding that details about the service will be released later in the year after consulting with other related authorities.

Whether the pass will be used for subway lines operated by Seoul Metro only is also in discussion, according to the spokesperson.

The operator company is in charge of managing subway lines No. 2 to 6 and 8 and parts of lines No. 1, 7 and 9.

Seoul Metro expects to sell around 380,000 passes a year and see around 4 billion won of profit from these unlimited passes.

The short-term subway passes will be available to everyone, including Seoul residents.

The anticipated subway pass is one of the three services that Seoul Metro will offer for the convenience of overseas visitors, supporting the city government’s aim to draw 30 million foreign tourists by 2026.

Simultaneous interpretation services will also be offered next year in 13 different languages, including English, German, Portuguese and Thai, at subway platforms.

Subway employees and foreign visitors will be able to communicate through the service, where artificial intelligence will interpret the speaker’s speech and show them on a transparent display in each other’s languages.

A four-month-long pilot service will begin at Myeong-dong Station in Jung District, central Seoul, in November as the station is where the highest number of foreign tourists take the subway from.

This will be expanded to an additional five stations next year to Seoul Station, Itaewon Station, Gwanghwamun Station, Gimpo International Airport Station and Hongik University Station.

Seoul Metro has already launched its T-luggage service in May, offering luggage storage and delivery service at four subways stations, including Myeong-dong Station.

Customers used the service over 900 times since May.

BY CHO JUNG-WOO [cho.jungwoo1@joongang.co.kr]