China Announces Visa-Free Travel For Six Additional Countries
In an attempt to support the rebound of the East Asian giant’s tourist sector, China is reportedly expanding its unilateral visa-free policy for regular passport holders from six countries: France, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands, Spain, and Malaysia, according to online travel operator Trip.com.
The program is currently in the trial phase and is scheduled to run from December 1, 2023 to November 30, 2024.
Holders of normal passports from the above-mentioned countries can visit China for up to 15 days without a visa under the extended visa-free program, whether for transit, business, or private purposes. The aim is to strengthen relations between the destination country and these six nations while making tourism to China more accessible to a wider international market.
Compared to the same period in 2022, the number of visitors in the first ten months of 2023 has increased fourfold, according to Trip.com, reaching more than 60% of the pre-pandemic level.
According to the data, Malaysia and Germany were among the top 10 countries from which China received tourists in the same period, with both contributing significantly more visitors than before.
Inbound long-haul traffic is also showing indications of recovery and is even exceeding pre-pandemic levels. For example, bookings from Europe to China in 2019 saw a remarkable increase of 663% compared to 2022 and 28.9% compared to the pre-pandemic period.
Since its launch in September, Trip.com’s new “China Travel Guide” has served around 100,000 foreign visitors and recorded a 30 percent increase in page views.
“China’s inbound tourism has huge potential, and if it is raised to the international median of 1.5% of GDP, it will bring at least nearly one thousand, three hundred and ten billion yuan of growth space,” said CEO of Trip.com Group, Jane Sun.
Trip.com Group has committed to the implementation of its “Nihao! China” program by signing a new framework agreement with the China International Culture Association, a calculated move to increase inbound travel. The creation of international promotional videos showcasing the attractiveness of China as a travel destination is part of this program.
The nation aims to provide a platform for inbound travel services and organize activities at significant international tourism conferences such as China International Tourism Fair, Sino-French Tourism Year, the World Conference on Tourism Development, and China-U.S. Tourism High-Level Dialogue.