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China plans to expand visa-free scheme

Updated: Aug 21,2014 2:24 PM     Xinhua

China may expand its 72-hour visa-free policy for foreigners in a bid to boost the country’s tourism.

Chinese authorities are mulling over measures to expedite visa processing and will gradually optimize visa-free stays for international transit passengers, the State Council, China’s cabinet, said in a guideline published Thursday.

The policy is already in place for foreign visitors to cities of Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Kunming, Chengdu, Chongqing, Shenyang, Dalian, Guilin and Xi’an.

China hopes expanding the program will help bolster tourism to and from Asia, central and eastern Europe and Africa.

The State Council said it also aims to make it easier for foreign-funded travel agencies to get business certificates from local tourism authorities.

Chinese travelling abroad are among the fastest growing tourism population due to steadily increasing incomes. This has resulted in a huge spending deficit with foreign tourists coming to China. According to China Tourism Academy the gap in money spent by Chinese tourists overseas versus foreign tourist spending in China is estimated around 100 billion U.S. dollars.

The preferential policies laid down in the guideline are expected to lure more foreign tourists to China.

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