China’s visa-free policy for six countries hailed for boosting tourism, cultural and business exchanges

China’s visa-free entry trial for ordinary passport holders from France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and Malaysia has been hailed by people from tourism, cultural and business sectors for boosting cultural exchanges and foreign companies’ confidence in investing in China.

From December 1, 2023(Friday)to November 30, 2024, holders of ordinary passports from the above-listed six countries may enter China visa-free for business, tourism, visiting relatives and friends and transit for no more than 15 days, the Chinese Foreign Ministry announced on November 24.

Following the announcement, the search volume for inbound flight tickets from the six countries on ly.com, an affiliated company of Tongcheng Travel Holdings Limited, increased by more than 100 percent as of 6 pm November 24 compared to November 23, the Hubei Daily reported.

The Global Times learned from several travel agencies on Thursday that considering that planning cross-border travel would take some time, there has been no significant increase in the number of inquiries and orders placed at present. But they said the visa-free policy has given a boost to the entire industry and the summer of 2024 is expected to be the time when the inbound market will reap the benefits.

“We are currently engaged in intensive communication with overseas travel agencies for policy consultations with each other and the development of new tourism products,” Xu Xiaolei, a marketing manager at China’s CYTS Tours Holding Co, told the Global Times on Thursday.

Zhou Weihong, deputy general manager of China Spring Tour, also told the Global Times that the agency had rushed to communicate with overseas partners to promote inbound travel into China immediately after the announcement of the visa-free policy, and is planning to launch travel routes connecting different Chinese regional cultures such as “Beijing with Hangzhou,” “Beijing with its neighboring Qinhuangdao and Beidaihe,” “Guangzhou with Kunming” as well as tailor-made services for inbound tourists.

Jane Sun, CEO of Trip.com Group, told the Global Times that China’s inbound tourism has huge potential and will have at least nearly 1.3 trillion yuan ($182 billion) of growth space.

According to Trip.com, the demand for travel to China is expected to rise in the near future, as the data collected by the platform shows that global search results for inbound travel to China significantly improved in the third quarter by nearly 40 percent compared to the second quarter.

We welcome more foreign friends to visit China and travel around, perhaps by high-speed rail, to experience first-hand China’s high-quality development and high-level opening-up, said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin on Thursday when asked to comment on China State Railway Group’s introduction of the English-language version of the online identity verification of foreign passports and ticket booking platform.

Wang emphasized that China is committed to enhancing people-to-people exchange with other countries and has worked to facilitate foreigners traveling, working, studying and living in China..

The inbound travelers will not only bring huge foreign exchange revenues and enhance China’s international image, but will also boost China’s technological innovation and international competitiveness, said Liang Jianzhang, a professor at Guanghua School of Management of Peking University.

Liang said the visa-free policy is a very positive start. If other bottlenecks such as payment and internet access can be further improved with strengthened image promotion, the number of inbound visitors to China can be greatly increased.

Global Times

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