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Foreign cruise tour groups can now enter China’s coastal provinces visa-free

The new policy allows international cruise passengers to travel in parts of China for up to 15 days, provided they are in a tour group.

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Overseas travellers who arrive in China on a cruise ship are now permitted to visit the country visa-free as part of a tour group, the National Immigration Administration (NIA) announced yesterday. 

Under the new policy, foreigners who join approved tour groups are allowed to stay in China visa-free for a maximum of 15 days, and are able to travel around coastal provinces or the capital Beijing. 

Visitors can enter the country via cruise ports located in Beihai, Dalian, Guangzhou, Haikou, Lianyungang, Qingdao, Sanya, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Tianjin, Wenzhou, Xiamen and Zhoushan. 

The move “will provide policy support for the development of the cruise economy and cruise industry,” Mao Xu of the NIA said in a South China Morning Post report. He added that the measure should boost visitor numbers in China, as well as strengthen international exchange. 

[See more: ‘Portugal wants visa-free entry into China,’ says economy minister]

The NIA announced that 7 cruise ports in Dalian, Yungang, Wenzhou, Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Beihai would be designated as transit visa-free ports in order to make cruise transfers and departures more convenient for the foreign nationals of 54 countries

The new policy comes as China looks to revive its inbound tourism industry, which has not yet fully recovered from the pandemic. 

CNN reported that there were 35.5 million border crossings by international visitors last year, which was 60 percent lower when compared to 2019 figures. 

Another major scheme that has been implemented to encourage further travel is a temporary visa-free travel policy for nationals of 11 European countries and Malaysia, which recently saw its validity period lengthened to the end of 2025. 

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