To qualify, tourists must be a specialized professional, such as a lawyer or professor, or hold a Master's degree or above, the Yonhap News Agency reported, citing the South Korean Ministry of Justice.
South Korea also reduced the age requirement for multiple-entry visas from 60 to 55 and extended the maximum length of each stay from 30 days to 90.
Yonhap estimated that there are 80 million potential applicants eligible for the new multiple-entry visas.
An estimated 6.1 million Chinese tourists visited South Korea last year, accounting for more than 40% of foreign tourists, China Central Television reported.
The Korea Tourism Organization (KTO) estimated that Chinese tourists generated $22 billion last year in accommodation, transportation, shopping and other industries. That accounted for 1.6% of South Korea’s GDP in 2015, according to the China Daily newspaper.
According to data from the KTO, Chinese tourists spent an average of $2,200 (14,469 yuan) in South Korea last year, twice the average of tourists from other countries.
More than 70% of Chinese tourists visit South Korea for shopping; about 20% for experiencing the Korean Wave, or Korean popular culture; and others for plastic surgery and sightseeing.