by REERA YOO | @reeraboo
After declaring a “de facto end” to the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) outbreak last week, the South Korea announced Thursday that it plans to give tax refunds to foreign tourists who undergo plastic surgery in the country, in an effort to boost its weakened tourism industry.
Starting in April 2016, eligible visitors will be able to collect their refund upon departure after submitting a receipt for the cosmetic surgery they received from a local hospital and clinic, Yonhap News Agency reports.
Often called the world capital of plastic surgery, South Korea has the highest rate of plastic surgery per capita in the world. In 2014, the country’s medical tourism industry earned a total of $349 million, a bulk of which came from Chinese tourists. Although medical tourism spending has declined since 2013, it’s likely that more tourists seeking cosmetic procedures will visit South Korea next year.
The conditions for the tax refund is outlined in South Korea’s 2015 tax code revision, which seeks to boost the country’s struggling economy by creating more jobs for youths and encouraging consumers to spend more with more tax breaks. The revision also calls for all wage earners to register for individual savings accounts to help them accumulate wealth.
“Our economy is currently in a difficult situation due to shocks from the MERS outbreak amid a slump in exports,” Finance Minister Choi Kyung-hwan told Yonhap. “The proposed tax code revision seeks to revitalize the local economy while giving hope to our future generation by creating new jobs for the youth.”
Despite the fact that two-thirds of South Koreans aged 25-34 have a college degree―the highest proportion in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)―South Korea’s youth unemployment rate rose to 10.2 percent in the first quarter of 2015, the highest it’s been in 16 years.
Last July, South Korea pledged to create 200,000 new jobs for young adults by 2017, in an effort to combat the rising unemployment rate.
Featured image via Korea Wave