China to ease visa, entry policies

Foreigners with valid visas issued before March 28, 2020 will be allowed to enter China, as the country is adjusting its visa and entry policies to facilitate travel across the border, the National Immigration Administration announced on Tuesday.

Visa-free policies will be resumed for entry to the southern island province of Hainan and cruise tour groups at Shanghai ports, Xinhua news agency quoted the Administration as saying.

On Wednesday, China will reopen its borders to foreign tourists for the first time since the Covid pandemic broke out three years ago. Foreign offices can process applications for Chinese visas, the BBC reported.

Visa-free entry to the southern province of Guangdong will be restored for tour groups of foreigners from Hong Kong and Macao, and a similar mechanism will be reinstated for tour groups from ASEAN countries to enter Guilin in the southern Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, Xinhua reported.

The news of easing restrictions comes after Beijing declared victory over the virus. The removal of the last cross-border restrictions imposed to tackle Covid marks a major step towards the resumption of normal life in post-pandemic China, the BBC reported.

Tens of millions of international visitors came to China each year prior to the pandemic, and its tourism industry has been hard hit by strict anti-Covid measures.

According to analysts, China can expect a significant increase in international arrivals after it reopens its borders

Chinese citizens will also be allowed to travel on tour groups to 60 countries, up from 20 previously.

The zero-Covid policy that was lifted in December sparked rare protests against Chinese President Xi Jinping.


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