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Foreign tourists praise their travel experience
China Daily
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Foreign tourists praise their travel experience

China is building a more positive tourism image globally, with more foreign visitors sharing their good travel experiences online and not unfairly stereotyping the country.
Two Mad Explorers from Ireland, a video blog channel on YouTube with more than 160,000 subscribers, has recorded the experiences of two travelers from the European country who started their trip to China two weeks ago from Chengdu, the capital of Southwest China's Sichuan province. They describe Chengdu as "clean, beautiful, very modern and an affordable place to visit".
Two visitors from Italy, Sydia and Mica, told Douyin blogger Broke Laowai, who has over 600 followers, that they have traveled to Beijing, Pingyao in Shanxi province and Xi'an in Shaanxi province.
Sydia said she found the people in China to be very kind and thoughtful. They try to help foreigners even if the latter don't speak Chinese and they themselves don't speak fluent English, she said.
The two visitors from Italy also praised mobile phone applications such as Alipay and WeChat, calling these "very cool" apps for ordering coffee, hailing rides and making payments.
China's inbound tourism recorded a good performance after the nation announced its visa-waiver policies for residents of some European and Asian countries and regions in late 2023.
Starting in December, China offered visa-free entry to ordinary passport holders of six countries — France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and Malaysia — allowing them to stay on the Chinese mainland for up to 15 days for tourism, business and family visit purposes, and also allowing them to transit without a visa.
The policy was extended to another six countries, including Switzerland and Ireland, in March, with its expiration date extended to Dec 31.
The National Immigration Administration issued 466,000 visas to international travelers in the first quarter of 2024, up nearly 120 percent year-on-year, data from the administration showed. Nearly 2 million visits were made to the mainland by visa-exempt foreign nationals in the first quarter, up 266 percent year-on-year.
The boom in inbound tourism continued during the May Day holiday. Around 1.76 million inbound trips were made to the mainland over the five-day break, which started on May 1, the Ministry of Culture and Tourism said.
Travel portal Group said that inbound travel bookings grew 130 percent year-on-year on the platform, while airport pickup services surged 342 percent year-on-year during the holiday.
Zhang Jinshan, a researcher on tourism planning and development at Beijing Union University, said that China's visa "openness and accessibility" was key to its inbound tourism growth.
"China has made efforts to optimize its visa issuing procedures and made some groundbreaking changes in its visa policies starting in 2023. The inbound tourism market has embraced rapid recovery since earlier this year, with the growth of international travelers from some countries exceeding our expectations," he said.
Zhao Jing, director of customized tours at travel portal Tuniu, said that international travelers like planning their trips in advance, and China's optimized entry policies will give them more time to prepare for their trips as well as boost their confidence in getting to know the country better.
The relaxed entry policies have also cheered up domestic tourism companies, prompting them to channel more resources into launching new products and improving services, Zhao said.
"The inbound tourism (market) has great potential yet to be tapped. I think the optimized policies will also attract more people to work in the sector," she added.
Zhang, the tourism researcher, suggested that China expand its visa-free policy to some neighboring countries, and also to countries and regions involved in the Belt and Road Initiative, in order to gain a larger share in inbound tourism.
In addition to improving payment, network and accommodations services for international travelers, China can channel more resources to deepen reform, enhance openness and improve the nation's image to secure the stable and sustainable development of inbound tourism, he added.

China DailyShen Yi

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