Guangzhou set to allow 72-hr visa-free visits

Beijing Capital International Airport

GUANGZHOU - Guangzhou is expected to become the third Chinese city to allow foreign visitors to transit for 72 hours without a visa, according to Tan Wangen, general manager of China Southern Airlines.

Tan said the policy will help boost tourism in Guangdong province and boost the local economy. "We are actively talking with the local airport and customs authorities to push the implementation of the visa-free transit policy as soon as possible," Tan said.

Since Jan 1, travellers from 45 countries have been benefiting from 72-hour visa-free stays in Beijing and Shanghai, a move that is expected to boost consumption.

Tourists holding third country visas and plane tickets are allowed to apply for a transit without visa at the Beijing Capital International Airport and Shanghai's Hongqiao and Pudong airports.

Foreign visitors are not permitted to leave the cities to travel to other Chinese cities during the 72 hours, and have to depart from the two cities.

"If the negotiations go smoothly, the policy will be implemented in Guangzhou within this year," Tan was quoted as saying by Xinhua News Agency.

"Optimizing the transit service is a priority for us this year to attract more foreign passengers", said Tan, adding that tourists would be able to travel to sites around the Pearl River Delta region within those 72 hours.

Since the policy was introduced in January, Shanghai has registered more than 1,000 foreign passengers transiting from its Hongqiao and Pudong airports without visas, sources with the local immigration control authorities said.

The number of inbound tourists to Beijing is expected to increase to 10 million passengers within the next three years, as a result of the policy, said Beijing Municipal Commission of Tourism Development.

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