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Hainan resumes visa-free travel policy

By Chen Bowen in Haikou | China Daily | Updated: 2023-03-20


An aerial photo shows the scenery in Haikou, South China's Hainan province. [Photo/IC]

Province preparing to welcome intl visitors again after three long years

Alina Oleinikova hasn't seen her mother for more than three years. In that time, the 26-year-old Russian has been doing international trade in Hainan province, and now she's about to welcome her mother for a visit.

China resumed visa-free entry to Hainan on Wednesday to the delight of Alina's mother, who is now looking for a flight to Sanya, the province's main resort.

The policy, which covers tourists from 59 countries, was implemented in 2018 but had been suspended due to the pandemic since March 28, 2020.

Individuals from qualifying countries can enjoy visa-free entry to Hainan and are entitled to remain in the province for up to 30 days for business, tourism, family visits, medical treatment, exhibitions or sports competitions.

Its resumption demonstrates Hainan's welcome to the world, and the deepening of connections between Hainan and the 59 countries, especially in terms of economy, trade and cultural exchanges, according to the Hainan Bureau of International Economic Development.

A representative from the bureau noted that more foreign companies and projects are expected in the province's free trade port.

The third China International Consumer Products Expo will be held in Haikou, capital of Hainan, in April. As a result of the policy, more CEOs from leading global companies, overseas exhibitors and foreign buyers are expected to participate in person, the bureau said.

"The resumption will improve international accessibility to the Hainan FTP," said Li Shijie, dean of the School of Economics at Hainan University on Tuesday. "It will facilitate short stays by foreign visitors and enhance the province's ability to attract international talent."

Li believes it will also activate inbound tourism, benefit civil aviation, accelerate the return of spending and help the province become an international tourism hub.

The provincial department of tourism, culture, radio, television and sports said that it will promote aviation subsidy measures and encourage airlines and chartered-flight companies to open direct routes to and from the province. It will also help tourism companies develop inbound markets.

Mai Weiwen, CEO of Hainan Wenhua Tourism Group, said on Thursday that inbound tourists were mainly from Japan, South Korea, Russia and Southeast Asia.

"We've already planned offerings for Cambodian, Thai and Vietnamese tour groups, and we're also thinking about catering to tourists from Singapore and Malaysia. We'll encourage them to experience local customs and culture, including local delicacies," said the group's Wang Tiezhu on Thursday.

"When I heard that the visa-free entry policy had been resumed, I immediately booked a ticket and flew here. The entry procedure was very convenient," said a Singaporean tourist surnamed Ho, who arrived in Haikou on Wednesday.

Zhang Yuwei, from the entry and exit administration department of Haikou Public Security Bureau, said a lot of work has been done to prepare for international visitors.

"We have communicated with airlines and travel agencies, conducted research, streamlined entry procedures and made plans for staff deployments at the airport," he said.

Russian expatriate Sergei Orlov, an entrepreneur and travel marketer in Sanya, believes it's definitely good news for Hainan's travel industry.

"With visa-free opportunities, more international tourists will come to Hainan, and my company will likely be in demand," he said.

Albert Yip, director-general of the Sanya tourism promotion board, said that in recent years it has been committing to the renewal of tourism resources and to introducing large-scale cultural and sports activities, and a range of musical events, exhibitions, conferences and exhibitions. With the resumption, these activities will attract more international visitors.

"The board is also carrying out tourism promotion activities overseas. With the policy, we're confident in making Sanya a new indicator in the construction of the Hainan FTP," Yip added.