The new visa-free policy that took effect on Dec 1 has led to rapid growth of inbound travelers with Chongqing, an inland municipality, seeing about 600 people entering the country through its ports in the first 10 days, a month-on-month increase of nearly 30 percent.
Under the policy, ordinary passport holders from France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and Malaysia are now able to enjoy visa-free travel to China for up to 15 days.
In just 10 days, visa-free entry from these six countries accounted for more than half of the inbound visitors, according to the Exit-Entry Management Corps of Chongqing Public Security Bureau.
Chongqing, a megacity with over 32 million people on the upper reaches of the Yangtze River, has become a hot destination in recent years with its unique mountainous landscape, delicious local cuisine and rich history dating back 3,000 years.
The policy, with a trial period from Dec 1, 2023, to Nov 30, 2024, was widely viewed as a boost to inbound tourism for China and international exchanges.
Li Yike used to study in France and married a Frenchman. The couple moved to Chongqing in 2010 and they now work in Sino-France cultural exchanges and trade.
” (The visa-free policy) is good news for us, especially for my husband’s family in France,” she said. “Now they are planning a trip to Chongqing.”
She said that in the past, it would take a lot of preparation and paperwork to apply for a visitor visa to China.
Local airlines also predict rising market demand due to the new visa-free policy.
“The new policy will play a positive role in expanding the inbound market and will bring obvious sales growth in the near future,” said Yang Jiuzhou, general manager of Hainan Airlines’ Chongqing branch, which operates direct flights from Chongqing to Paris, Rome and Madrid.
“We believe more foreign travelers will benefit from this policy as Chongqing builds itself into an international aviation hub.”
On Dec 1, the first day of the visa-free policy, the number of arrivals from these six countries increased by over 12 percent from the previous day and 2,029 people entered China without a visa, according to China’s National Immigration Administration.