Beijing set to welcome visa-free visitors

Updated: 2012-12-06 02:22

By Zheng Xin (China Daily)

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The decision to waive visas for foreign visitors for 72 hours is a major step toward Beijing's goal of becoming an open international city, tourism experts said.

The capital announced on Wednesday that, from Jan 1, visitors from 45 countries will be allowed a three-day stay without a visa.

The program, of particular benefit to transit passengers and businesspeople, will make the city more accessible and allow tourism to be a strategic pillar of the economy, the Beijing Tourism Development Committee said.

"The waiver is definitely a giant step forward that will greatly boost tourism," said Zhang Hui, a professor of tourism at Beijing Jiaotong University.

"Business tours and high-end travel will benefit the most.

"Those on business trips usually don't have sightseeing plans, so they're free to explore when they have time," Zhang said. "However, the relatively tight visa restrictions China now adopts only put potential visitors off.''

The countries include the United States, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Canada, Brazil, Argentina, Australia, Japan and Singapore, according to the committee.

No decision has been made on including more countries and the program will have to be evaluated.

Tourists from the 45 countries, as long as they hold a ticket to a third country and proof of identity, are entitled to the visa exemption, the committee said.

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