Beijing considers simplified visa for certain foreigners
Some foreigners may be given 72 hours to explore Beijing on a simplified visa granted at the airport, under a new policy being mulled by municipal authorities.
At a gathering last weekend, in which three foreigners were granted permanent residency, the city's chief of public security, Fu Zhenghua was quoted by the Beijing Youth Daily as saying that authorities were considering the visa-waiver scheme for foreigners. He said it would serve as a clear sign that Beijing was becoming more open to the world.
Analysts also said the policy showed that the authorities were becoming increasingly involved in the international tourism market.
The public security bureau declined to release further information about the plan, including details as to how it would be implemented and who would be qualified to enjoy it.
However, Professor Zhang Hui, dean of tourism at Beijing Jiaotong University, said he had spoken to officials, and the new policy may improve business exchanges with other countries, particularly as Beijing hosts many international conferences, exhibitions and sporting events.
He also said the new policy may not be a visa exemption, but rather a business visa granted to people from a list of 32 countries.
'Foreigners from those countries that have frequent business exchanges with Beijing would be able to enjoy the policy,' he said, adding that ordinary travellers on personal trips would probably not benefit from the policy.
'The policy is mainly for foreigners travelling on business or those who stop in Beijing [en route to other countries], so it would boost high-end business trips.'
Professor Wang Fude, with the Academy of Tourism Development at Beijing International Studies University, agreed with Zhang and expects the plan to be rolled out by year's end.
Under the guidance of the Beijing Tourism Development Committee, the policy has been in development for about two years, the professors said.
Beijing officials originally planned to allow a longer stay, but then reduced it to three days, Zhang said, adding that three days would be enough for most foreigners if they are in Beijing on business.