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Hainan's longer visa-free policy to entice tourists

By Cui Jia | China Daily | Updated: 2018-04-19


A cruise sails on sea waters off Phoenix Island in Sanya, Hainan province, March 27, 2018. [Photo/VCG]

China will introduce a new 30-day visa-waiver policy in Hainan for tourists from 59 countries starting May 1 to accelerate development of the tourism industry in the province, an immigration official announced.

People from 59 countries will be able to visit the province for 30 days visa-free as long as they book their travel through a local travel agency, Qu Yunhai, deputy director of the new State Immigration Administration, said at a news conference in Beijing on Wednesday.

With a tropical climate and golden beaches, Hainan has been implementing 15-day and 21-day visa-waiver policies for visitors traveling in groups from 26 countries since 2010.

Newly added visa waiver countries include Belgium, Greece, Ireland, Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar.

"Unlike the existing policy, the new one allows independent travelers from 59 countries to travel to Hainan visa-free and people are allowed to stay much longer," Qu said. Some parts of China such as Shanghai and Beijing allow shorter visa-free "transit" stays.

The visa-waiver policy applies to Hainan only, and foreign tourists will need to apply for Chinese visas if they want to visit other parts of the country, Qu added.

The current waiver policy has been important in boosting tourism in Hainan, said Min Haiyun, an official of the administration. "The percentage of foreigners who travel to Hainan visa-free increased to 78 percent of the total in 2017 from 33 percent in 2015," she said.

The new policy is expected to further open Hainan tourism to the world. It will also help the province to gain popularity among international travelers, Qu said.

"Hainan, with some of the top luxury resorts in Asia, has been a popular tourist destination, particularly for South Korean, Russian and Malaysian tourists, many of whom also benefit from the visa-waiver policy," said Jiang Wei, an official of Hainan Public Security Bureau who is familiar with exit and entry issues.

Jiang added that Hainan border control officials are well prepared for implementation of the new policy and will ensure that all eligible foreign tourists receive efficient visa-waiver services.

President Xi Jinping called for an acceleration of Hainan's development into a center for international tourism and consumption on Friday. He said more international air routes linking Hainan and key tourist markets need to be launched and the province must provide better services to domestic and foreign tourists.