Beijing authorities are considering giving foreign tourists 72-hour visa-free entry to help the city grab a bigger slice of the tourism pie, and to show that it was truly “open” to the world. Other visa-waiver policies are currently being run in Shanghai (48 hours) and Hainan (21 days). From China Daily:
“Shanghai and neighboring cities, such as Hangzhou and Wuxi, have benefited greatly (since Shanghai introduced a visa waiver for transit passengers), as it means foreign tourists can travel during a 48-hour stay,” said Jiang Yiyi, director of the China Tourism Academy’s international tourism development institute.
“With so many foreign people transiting in Beijing, the visa waiver program will allow many of them to tour around the ancient city.”
A tourism analyst, who did not want to be identified, told China Daily that Beijing officials had considered a project last year that would allow visitors to stay in the capital for seven days without a visa. However, the idea was shelved.
“The newly proposed waiver would be a giant step forward, as the visa policy plays a crucial role in the country’s inbound and outbound tourism development,” said Dai Bin, president of the China Tourism Academy.
Although China has relatively tight visa restrictions, and has few visa exemption agreements with other countries, Dai said the country has gradually loosened its visa policy in recent years. He said many cities worldwide have come up with visa waiver projects to attract more tourists, including Tokyo and Kuala Lumpur.
“A tight visa policy will only wave goodbye to those potential visitors,” he said.