Nationals of 53 countries are exempted from visas when they are transiting through Beijing, the Chinese capital, and its neighbouring areas for a period of six days, according to People’s Daily, the state-run newspaper of China.
Earlier, a similar visa-free transit policy of six days was introduced for Shanghai and its neighbouring provinces of Jiangsu and Zhejiang in 2016.
The new visa-free policy, which covers Beijing and its neighbouring areas, became effective from 28 December. The countries for which this scheme is being extended include the United States, most member states of the European Union, Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea.
The measure is said to be a part of the plan of the government to integrate more closely the development and economies of Beijing, Hebei and Tianjin.
Civil Aviation Administration of China and the National Development and Reform Commission, the economic planning agency, have also given their commitments to build new infrastructure to link the airports of this region by 2020.
South China Morning Post quotes a government report as saying that the visa scheme’s notices are already in place in English as well as Chinese at the international airport of Tianjin and also at the city’s cruise port.
Wang Huiyao, director of the Centre for China Globalisation think tank, said that this scheme would promote the tourism sector, particularly in Hebei and Tianjin.
Wang said that eligible for the new policy would be mostly all the developed nations in the world, and stays of six days would mean foreign tourists would have sufficient time now to attend business conferences or to travel without having to spend time and resources on visa applications.
Though Chinese tourists have become the largest contributors to the global tourism market, the People’s Republic of China has found it tough to lure foreign tourists owing to its stringent visa policy, which was attributed as one of the main factors discouraging foreign tourists from entering this country.
About 62.03 million overseas trips were made by tourists from China in the first six months of 2017, but Asia’s largest economy saw foreign nationals making only 4.25 million trips to it, the National Tourism Administration revealed.
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