By Michael Evans
Starting January 1, 2013, tourists from 45 countries will be allowed to visit Shanghai without a visa for up to 72 hours.
Shanghai authorities announced the plan on Sunday, after receiving approval from China’s State Council, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.
Previous rules introduced in 2000 allowed a visa-free stay of 48 hours to visitors from 32 countries, and 24 hours to all travelers transferring through Shanghai’s two international airports.
The move comes four days after Beijing announced a similar plan to allow brief, visa-free visits to China’s capital.
Local tourism officials are hopeful that the new visa policy will help boost Shanghai’s hospitality industry.
While the city’s outbound travel has been enjoying double-digit growth in recent years, inbound tourism fell last year, but there are signs it is picking up.
In 2011, the number of foreign tourists visiting Shanghai reached 8.18 million, a 4 percent drop from the previous year that saw the successful hosting of the 2010 World Expo.
But it is expected that in 2012 the number of inbound overseas travelers will rise to 8.25 million, a 3 percent increase.