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Extension proposed for visa-free stays

2014-01-23 09:15 Global Times Web Editor: Li Yan

The Shanghai Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) has heard a proposal to extend visa waivers for international transit passengers from three to seven days, the member who submitted the proposal said Wednesday.

Zhu Chuanwu, a Shanghai CPPCC member and a senior official from the Shanghai Airport Authority, suggested the extension would drive more international tourist dollars to Shanghai. "Transit passengers usually have a lot of money to spend, the change would definitely give a boost to the local tourism industry. And an increase in transit passengers will also help Shanghai become a global aviation hub," Zhu said.

Under the current policy, which started at the beginning of 2013, travelers from 45 countries or regions can apply to stay in the city without a visa for up to 72 hours. To qualify for the visa waiver, a traveler must have an airline ticket and a valid visa to a third country or region. The plane ticket must be for a flight scheduled to depart within 72 hours of the traveler's arrival in Shanghai.

"The current three-day visa waiver is not enough for travelers or businessmen who want to sightsee in the city or attend a business conference," Zhu told the Global Times.

Zhu pointed out that about 15,000 of the more than 1 million international transit passengers who have come to Shanghai since the visa waivers became available have taken advantage of them.

"There is a lot of room for the number to increase," Zhu said.

Under the current policy, transit passengers usually only have one full day to see the city, considering the time they need to travel back and forth to the airport and find a place to stay, Zhu said.

Many cities in neighboring countries have instituted longer visa waiver policies, Zhu said. For example, international transit passengers can stay in Seoul, South Korea, for up to 30 days without a visa.

Zhu suggested that the local government try to carry out the policy change, which requires the approval of national authorities, before the Shanghai Disney Resort opens in 2015.

"The establishment of the China (Shanghai) Free Trade Zone and the opening of the Shanghai Disney Resort will attract more foreigners who need to stay in the city for longer periods," Zhu said.

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