[UPDATE] Tobacco to join S. Korea’s arrivals duty free shop mix in 2020

By Luke Barras-hill |

Sm-Arrivals-IncheonAirport arrivals duty free shop operators in South Korea will be permitted to sell tobacco products from February next year under new rules, TRBusiness is reliably informed.

It is understood the allowance will cover one carton per person.

The move from government will be welcomed by stakeholders after months of speculation regarding a possible extension to the existing categories, which cover perfumes & cosmetics, liquor, fashion and electronics under a $600 ceiling.

A Korean duty free source told TRBusiness this week that the government is eyeing the current threshold and an announcement on whether that limit may raise could be made before the end of the year, although the source says most stakeholders do not expect this to change.


In separate but related news, TRBusiness can now also confirm that the government has extended duty free arrivals shopping to other airports in Korea, including at Gimpo International.

A spokesperson from the Ministry of Economy and Finance said: “Plans to expand on-arrival duty fee shops nationwide including Gimpo and authorise tobacco sales are included in our 2020 economic policies but the timeline has not been confirmed at the moment.”


Entas Duty Free (centre) and SM Duty Free (top) will benefit from additional revenue opportunities. Pictured here is the Entas Duty Free arrivals shop at Incheon International Airport Terminal 2.

The move was anticipated last month by this publication after it revealed exclusively in May plans by Incheon Airport to open more arrivals duty free units after the upgrade of Terminal 2 completes in 2023.

Currently, Incheon Airport is the sole operator of arrivals duty free shops after Entas Duty Free and SM Duty Free were both awarded five-year contracts earlier this year and began operations in May.

The above developments come as South Korea President Moon Jae-in headed a meeting today (19 December) of ministers outlining the country’s economic direction for the coming year.

Ministry of Economy and Finance Hong Nam-Ki unveiled a programme for boosting economic growth through investment, job creation and overcoming challenges.


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