China's expanded visa-free policy to boost cruise travel

2024-05-16 Editor : Zhao Li ECNS App Download

(ECNS) -- Foreign tourist groups arriving in China by cruise ship via all ports along the country's coastline will be exempt from visas, the country announced on Wednesday.

Tourist groups each consisting of two foreigners or more, and organized or received by Chinese travel agencies, can enter China visa-free on board cruise ships via designated ports in 13 Chinese cities, including Shanghai, Tianjin, Guangzhou and Sanya, according to the National Immigration Administration (NIA).

Since October 2016, China has been piloting a visa-free policy for inbound cruise tourist groups in Shanghai. Since the implementation of the policy, the city has seen an annual average growth of 10 percent in cruise passenger arrivals.

Previously, the scope of stay under the pilot policy in Shanghai was limited to cities where cruise ports were located along with nearby cities and Beijing. While now they can visit coastal provinces, municipalities, and autonomous regions as well as Beijing, an NIA statement noted.

Mao Xu, a senior NIA official, remarked that the new policy would make inbound cruise ports more flexible, and will be beneficial for foreign cruise liners to plan more diverse routes.

China resumed international cruise transportation to and from Chinese ports in September 2023. Last year, the number of domestic and foreign passengers transported by Chinese cruise ships exceeded 107,000. Currently, the inbound cruise tourism market in China is showing promising momentum.

Li Tao, a senior official at the border inspection department of the NIA, said that foreign passengers arriving by cruise ship are exempt from providing fingerprint biometric information. Passengers entering and exiting the country on the same cruise voyage are exempt from entry and exit stamps and from filling out foreigner arrival cards, further enhancing efficiency.

Besides, several Chinese government departments have jointly issued a notice stating that all national 5A and 4A tourist attractions, national and provincial-level tourist resorts, national-level tourist leisure districts, as well as three-star, four-star, and five-star hotels, must accept both domestic and foreign bank cards. Efforts are being made to actively establish foreign currency exchange points in cultural and tourism venues with a significant number of foreign visitors, aiming to improve the quality of foreign currency exchange services.

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