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Shanghai to extend stays without visa to 72 hours

(Shanghai Daily)

08:21, December 10, 2012

(Xinhua Photo)

Air passengers from 45 countries will be able to enjoy an extended visa-free stay in Shanghai from next year.

The policy, which has been approved by the central government, extends the period of visa-free stay in the city from 48 to 72 hours for passengers passing through on their way to other destinations.

Beijing announced a similar measure last week.

The foreign countries include the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, France and Russia, and the policy will apply to passengers who hold transit plane tickets to a third nation or region.

Shanghai border inspection authorities said special check areas will be set up at Hongqiao and Pudong international airports.

The current 48-hour visa-free policy is available to 32 countries.

Zhang Chaomei, director with Shanghai Port Office, said that the extended period would boost passenger volume and "greatly benefit passengers."

The visa-free policy is also expected to be introduced to port and railway borders as the city promotes the liner and cruise businesses.

Local travel agencies see the policy as a golden opportunity to boost tourism and plan to offer more travel products.

"Not only visitors but those business passengers will have plenty of time to get a good tour around the city," said Zhong Xin, a vice general manager with Shanghai China Youth Travel Service.

The extra time will enable the visitors to get a better feel for the city and that should boost its tourist industry, Zhong said.

The 48-hour visa-free policy was first introduced in 2000 at the city's two international airports.

Police said 2,923 people took advantage of the service last year, a 78.5 percent increase on the previous year.

Entry and exit authorities have been boosting Shanghai's plans to build itself into a major international transport hub with a series of policies.

The latest, introduced in March, saw passengers transferring between international flights at Pudong within 24 hours given exemption from double border inspections.

It's the first time the practice has been used at airports on the Chinese mainland.

More than 93,000 passengers enjoyed the benefits of that policy from March to July, authorities said.

The city's airports saw a slower increase in passenger volume and cargo transport last year amid the global economic slowdown and weakened trade growth.

This year, in the first six months, more than 11.95 million travelers went through Shanghai's airports and ports, an 11 percent increase on the same period in 2011.

About 44.8 percent were foreign travelers, officials said.

The 45 countries which will be covered by the 72-hour visa-free policy are: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Brunei, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Holland, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Mexico, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, Russia, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, South Korea, Sweden, Switzerland, the UK, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates and the US.

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