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Tourism

Transiting in Beijing? You can now stay visa-free for six days

Visitors from 53 nations who stop in China while in transit to a third country will be able to stay for up to six days in the capital, Tianjin and Hebei province

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 27 December, 2017, 4:11pm
UPDATED : Friday, 29 December, 2017, 5:27pm

China is to allow some foreigners to visit Beijing and neighbouring Tianjin and Hebei province for up to six days without a visa.

The visa-waiver scheme is open to visitors from 53 countries who stop in China while in transit to a third country, the state-run People’s Daily reported.

A similar six-day visa-free transit policy was introduced in Shanghai and neighbouring Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces last year.

The new policy covering Beijing and neighbouring areas comes into force on Thursday. The countries in the scheme include most of the European Union, the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and South Korea.

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The move forms part of government plans to more closely integrate the economies and development of Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei.

China’s Civil Aviation Administration and the economic planning agency the National Development and Reform Commission have also pledged to construct new infrastructure to connect airports in the region by 2020.

Notices about the visa scheme have already been prepared in Chinese and English at Tianjin’s international airport as well as the city’s cruise port, the report said.

Wang Huiyao, director of the Centre for China Globalisation think tank, said the scheme would boost the tourism sector, especially in Tianjin and Hebei.

“The new policy covers citizens from almost all the developed countries in the world and six-day stays mean foreign visitors now have enough time to travel or to attend business conferences without needing to spend time and money on visa applications,” said Wang.

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Chinese tourists have become the largest contributor to the international tourism market, but China has long struggled to attract foreign travellers, with its strict visa policy often blamed as one of the factors deterring overseas tourists.

Chinese tourists made 62.03 million trips abroad in the first six months of the year, but foreigners only made 14.25 million trips to China, according to the National Tourism Administration.