China Extends Visa-Free Entry for Europeans and Malaysians, Boosting Tourism

By Ivan PetrenkoJun 17, 2024 15:35 PMNews
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Rainy street scene in China with people holding umbrellas in front of traditional shops decorated with red lanterns
Visa-free entry aims to rejuvenate tourism. Source: unsplash

The Chinese government has announced the extension of its visa-free policy for citizens from several European nations and Malaysia until December 31, 2025. Starting March 14, 2024, to November 30, 2024, nationals from Austria, Belgium, Hungary, Ireland, Luxembourg, and Switzerland will be eligible for visa-free entry to Mainland China for up to 15 days. Additionally, New Zealand has been added to the list of countries whose citizens can now enter China without a visa.

This move is part of China's broader strategy to rejuvenate its tourism sector, which has seen a significant decline in recent years. In 2023, China recorded 35.5 million foreign entries and exits, a stark contrast to the 97.7 million recorded in 2019. The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) projects that China's Travel & Tourism sector will contribute a record ¥12.62 trillion to the national economy by the end of 2024.

The visa exemption will facilitate travel for business, tourism, family visits, and transit purposes. This policy aims to attract more international visitors and enhance economic ties. The inclusion of New Zealand follows a high-level visit by Chinese Premier Li Qiang, during which plans for visa-free entry for New Zealanders were announced.

China has also relaxed visa requirements for tourists arriving by cruise ships. As of May 15, 2024, these tourists can stay visa-free for up to 15 days. These measures are designed to boost international travel and strengthen bilateral relations.

The expansion of visa-free access is expected to increase tourist numbers and contribute to economic recovery post-COVID-19. Premier Li Qiang's visit to New Zealand also highlighted other areas of cooperation, including trade, climate change, and human rights.

These changes are part of a larger effort by the Chinese government to foster international engagement and stimulate the travel and tourism sector, which is poised for significant growth. With these new policies, China is positioning itself as a more accessible and attractive destination for travelers worldwide.

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