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Number of foreign visits to Chinese cities increases over threefold
China Daily
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Number of foreign visits to Chinese cities increases over threefold

The latest figures have revealed a significant increase in the number of foreign visitors to various Chinese cities in recent months, as a result of more tailored measures provided to facilitate the entry and stay of visa-exempt foreigners.

The number of foreign nationals visiting China in the first quarter increased more than threefold year-on-year, the National Immigration Administration said.

Immigration authorities nationwide have recorded over 141 million entries and exits in the first three months, marking a 117.8 percent increase year-on-year. Among them, foreign nationals made 13.07 million entries and exits, showing an increase of 305.2 percent year-on-year, said Lin Yongsheng, spokesman for the administration.

The countries with the highest number of visitors to China include the United States, Australia and Canada, as well as China's neighboring countries such as Russia, Vietnam and Myanmar, according to the administration.

Visitors from East Asian and Southeast Asian countries, including South Korea, Japan and Malaysia, also see China as an important destination for sightseeing and business.

The majority of foreign visitors, over 30 percent, come to China for traveling, followed by purposes such as business, visiting relatives and friends, work and study.

The administration has introduced a series of immigration and entry-exit measures to continuously optimize visa-free entry.

Since last year, China has implemented visa exemption policies for 15 countries. To date, nearly 989,000 foreigners from these countries have entered China visa-free, accounting for over 60 percent of the total visitors.

In July, China reinstated a 15-day visa exemption policy for ordinary passport holders from Singapore and Brunei coming for business, tourism and family visits as well as for transit.

In December and March, the country unilaterally adopted a visa exemption policy for ordinary passport holders from 12 countries mainly in Europe, including France, Germany, Italy and Ireland. On March 1, the mutual visa exemption agreement between China and Thailand also took effect.

Efficient and convenient customs services have been provided to facilitate the stay of visa-exempt foreign nationals, Lin said.

Since China launched five measures in January to further facilitate the entry of foreign nationals, 211,000 foreigners have entered China by obtaining port visas upon arrival, and approximately 253,000 foreign nationals in China have applied for services such as visa extension, replacement and reissue, Lin said.

"The measures have made it more convenient for foreign nationals to visit and stay in China, and immigration authorities have enhanced the efficiency of services for foreigners residing in the country," he said.

The new measures include relaxing port visa application requirements, canceling border check procedures for foreigners who transit at major airports within 24 hours, and simplifying visa application documents for foreigners already in China.

A total of 6.357 million ordinary passports were issued from January to March, a 24 percent increase year-on-year, according to the administration.

The number of visas and documents issued to foreigners increased 118.8 percent year-on-year to 466,000, while the number of foreigners entering China visa-free rose by 266.1 percent year-on-year to 1.99 million, it added.

More reasons have been added for visa-free entry to Hainan province for people from 59 countries including Russia, the United Kingdom and France, allowing visitors to stay in the province for multiple purposes, including medical care and sports competitions, for no more than 30 days, the administration announced in February.

"Nearly 50,000 foreign nationals have entered the province visa-free in the past two months," Lin said, adding that the number will keep rising with the gradual restoration of international flights.

In addition, Fujian Provincial Public Security Bureau has issued 90,000 five-year mainland travel permits for Taiwan residents this year, a 56.4 percent year-on-year increase.

Also, Xi'an, capital of Shaanxi province, and Qingdao in Shandong province, were added to the Individual Visit Scheme with effect from March 6, allowing eligible people in those two cities to apply for individual visit endorsements for Hong Kong and Macao.

Holders of these endorsements will be permitted to stay in the two cities for a maximum of seven days per visit.

China Dailyliu sha

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