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Foreigners from these 6 Countries added to China’s Visa Free List

According to CCTV news, on March 7th, China announced the expansion of its visa-free policy to citizens holding ordinary passports from six countries: Switzerland, Ireland, Hungary, Austria, Belgium, and Luxembourg.

From March 14th to November 30th, citizens from these countries can enter China visa-free for up to 15 days for purposes such as business, tourism, visiting relatives, or transit. Following the announcement, there was a rapid increase in searches for flights to and from these countries on various travel platforms.

Data from Ctrip shows that in February of this year, flight capacity from Hungary to China has doubled compared to the same period in 2019, while flight capacity from Belgium to China has recovered to about 90% of the levels seen in 2019. It is expected that tourism from these two countries to China will grow the fastest.

Among the remaining countries, except for Ireland which currently has no flights to China, most have recovered to 50-60% of the flight capacity seen in the same period in 2019.

As of noon today, ticket searches on Tongcheng Travel have nearly quadrupled compared to the same period the day before. Among the six countries included in the visa-free policy, there has been a 70% increase in daily bookings for entry tickets from Austria in March compared to January and February, and a 52% increase in daily bookings for entry tickets from Switzerland.

Cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Hangzhou, and Nanjing have seen high volumes of flight bookings to and from these countries. Additionally, on the Qunar platform, searches for flights departing from Zurich today have increased nearly fourfold compared to last week.

Qin Jing, Vice President of Ctrip Group, stated that the further expansion of the visa-free policy signals China’s active openness and determination, which will accelerate personnel exchanges, economic and trade cooperation, and tourism development between China and Europe.

Currently, China has formed a “visa-free circle” with Southeast Asian countries like Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand, which facilitates cross-border tourism and supply chain recovery. Among the client source countries for inbound tourism to China in 2023, Switzerland, Ireland, Belgium, and Hungary ranked around 30th. With the implementation of visa-free policies for these long-haul source countries, inbound tourism to China is expected to further develop in 2024.

In recent months, several ministries have jointly worked to optimize the payment environment for inbound travelers. They have facilitated payments at key cultural and tourism sites, resorts, museums, entertainment venues, star-rated hotels, and cultural and business travel complexes.

This aims to enhance the tourism and service experience for inbound travelers. Previously, China had implemented a visa-free policy for citizens holding ordinary passports from France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, and Malaysia starting from December 2023. By January 9th, the number of visa-free entries from these six countries had reached 147,000.

Ning Guoxin, Chief Government Affairs Officer of China CYTS Tours Holding Co., Ltd., stated that as the first threshold for foreign tourists entering China, a series of visa-free policies undoubtedly open the door to tourism for foreign tourists, which will continue to boost inbound tourism, business visits, and study tours in the future.

Similarly, the head of the Tongcheng Research Institute also stated that opening visa-free entry to more countries indicates a more open attitude towards the development of inbound tourism market in China, which will facilitate the rapid development of inbound tourism market in our country.

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