Visa-free policy attracts visitors to Hainan

Photo taken on Feb 12, 2024 shows visitors in Baoting Li and Miao autonomous county, South China’s Hainan province. [Photo/Xinhua]

China’s recent extension of visa-free entry to Hainan province to visitors from 59 countries has proved a hit, attracting a significant influx of tourists to the tropical island.

Since Feb 9, when citizens from 59 countries were allowed up to 30 days’ visa-free entry to Hainan for business, visits, family reunions, medical treatment, exhibitions and sports competitions, the number of visitors has been rising.

According to the Haikou General Station of Exit and Entry Frontier Inspection, from Feb 9 to Feb 25, more than 101,000 visitors from overseas arrived in Hainan, with about half doing so without visas. Russia, Kazakhstan, South Korea, Malaysia and Singapore were the major sources of tourists.

A Singaporean surnamed Fu visited Hainan during Spring Festival.

“I caught the first flight after the new visa-free policy was released on Feb 9, and the whole entry clearance process took less than two minutes,” he said.

“I didn’t need to fill in the immigration card, but only took out my passport for the border inspection staff, who took my fingerprints and a photo.”

Wu Guoqiang from the Haikou General Station of Exit and Entry Frontier Inspection said the policy has allowed an increasing number of travelers to experience a more efficient and convenient entry process.

To ensure smooth implementation of the policy, Wu said the station has communicated with airlines, agencies and travel companies, and carried out promotions for passengers.

“In response to the expanded visa-free entry policy, we have strengthened the training of border inspection officers and enhanced inspection efficiency,” he added.

Mai Weiwen, CEO of Hainan Wenhua Tourism Group, said the policy has captured the attention of foreign tourists.

“The province’s exceptional natural allure and stunning environment have played a pivotal role in attracting visitors from afar,” Mai said. “With the presence of topnotch hotels and world-class golf courses, Hainan has further elevated its position as a leading global travel destination.”

South Korean visitors, in particular, have developed a fondness for Sanya’s tropical landscapes and golf tourism. Since July, the resumption of routes connecting Sanya with Seoul and Busan in South Korea has led to over 110 round-trip flights. In the second half of last year, the number of South Korean tourists more than quintupled compared to the same period in 2022. South Korea has become the second-largest source of overseas tourists for Sanya, with hotels accommodating 16,000 tourists from the country.

“Sanya is committed to refining its tourism offerings and bolstering its capacity to cater to international tourists, with a specific focus on enhancing collaboration with South Korea’s tourism industry,” said Albert Yip, director-general of Sanya Tourism Promotion. “Our goal is to provide a warm and magnificent travel experience to every Korean visitor to Sanya. Through these efforts, we aim to infuse new dynamism into Sanya’s tourism sector and propel the city to integrate into the global tourism sphere.”

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