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Tourists may get 3-day visit window

By Zheng Xin (China Daily)

08:23, May 28, 2012

Tourists enjoy the Palace Museum on Sunday. Beijing is considering allowing tourists a 72-hour window to explore the capital without a visa. (China Daily/ Zhu Xinxing)

Beijing is considering allowing foreign tourists a 72-hour window to explore the capital without a visa.

Fu Zhenghua, the city's director of public security, has confirmed that authorities are mulling over the move, saying it would represent a crucial sign that Beijing is open to the world.

Lin Song at the public security bureau’s exit-entry administration echoed that view on Sunday. "It's expected that the project will attract more tourists from abroad."

Neither the bureau nor the Beijing Tourism Development Committee, which proposed the policy, would offer more details about the visa window when contacted by China Daily.

However, experts said the policy is expected to be similar to ones already being run in Shanghai (48 hours) and South China's Hainan province (21 days for tour groups).

"Shanghai and neighboring cities, such as Hangzhou and Wuxi, have benefited greatly (since Shanghai introduced a visa waiver for transit passengers), as it means foreign tourists can travel during a 48-hour stay," said Jiang Yiyi, director of the China Tourism Academy’s international tourism development institute.

"With so many foreign people transiting in Beijing, the visa waiver program will allow many of them to tour around the ancient city."

A tourism analyst, who did not want to be identified, told China Daily that Beijing officials had considered a project last year that would allow visitors to stay in the capital for seven days without a visa. However, the idea was shelved.

"The newly proposed waiver would be a giant step forward, as the visa policy plays a crucial role in the country's inbound and outbound tourism development," said Dai Bin, president of the China Tourism Academy.

Although China has relatively tight visa restrictions, and has few visa exemption agreements with other countries, Dai said the country has gradually loosened its visa policy in recent years. He said many cities worldwide have come up with visa waiver projects to attract more tourists, including Tokyo and Kuala Lumpur.

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