Beijing, Europe Brief News – China declared a decision to reopen its borders to foreign tourists for the first time since the Covid pandemic.
The removal of this last cross-border control measure on Wednesday comes after authorities declared victory over the virus last month.
Tourist industry insiders do not expect a large influx of visitors in the near future or significant boost to the economy. In 2019, international tourism receipts accounted for just 0.9% of China’s gross domestic product.
But the resumption of visa issuance for tourists marks a broader push by Beijing to normalise two-way travel between China and the world, having withdrawn its advisory to citizens against foreign travel in January.
Areas in China that did not require visas before the pandemic would revert to visa-free entry, the foreign ministry said. This would include the southern tourist island of Hainan, a longtime favourite destination among Russians, as well as cruise ships passing through Shanghai port.
Visa-free entry for foreigners from Hong Kong and Macau to China’s most prosperous province, Guangdong, will also resume, a boon particularly to luxury hotels that are popular among international business travellers.
The chair of the Australian Chamber of Commerce in China, Vaughn Barber, said: “The announcement that China will resume issuing nearly all type of visas for foreigners is positive for Australian businesses, whose executives would like to travel to here to visit their China-based teams, customers and suppliers and to explore new business opportunities in the mainland market.”
Chinese events open to foreign visitors, such as the development forum in Beijing this month and the Shanghai auto show in April, are gradually resuming. The quadrennial Asian Games will also take place in the eastern city of Hangzhou in September after being postponed last year.