China Expands Visa Exemption to 6 More European Nations

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China has broadened its 15-day visa-free policy for citizens of certain countries to include an additional 6 European nations.

As of March 14, 2024, nationals of Austria, Belgium, Hungary, Ireland, Luxembourg, and Switzerland will be able to enter mainland China without a visa for short trips.

This change in China’s visa policy is designed to help the country open itself up to the outside world.

It allows foreign nationals of visa-exempt countries to visit for various reasons. These include tourism or business purposes, to see family or friends, or to pass through in transit.

China Expands Visa Exemption to 6 More European Nations

Greater Visa-Free Access for Europeans

This latest expansion of China’s visa-free program builds upon the initiative introduced for other European citizens in late 2023. This granted access to citizens of France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain.

The series of visa-exemption measures will conclude on November 30, 2024. It forms part of a pilot program aiming to strengthen China’s visitor numbers and presence as an international travel and business hub.

Hopes for Increased Tourist Travel to China

With many European citizens now able to enjoy visa-free travel to China, authorities are expecting a boost in tourist numbers for 2024.

Following several years of COVID-19 related travel disruption and China’s strict restrictions on movement, visitor numbers have sharply fallen.

China’s National Immigration Authority recorded 35.5 million entries and exits by foreign citizens in 2023, representing a drop in visitors of almost 60% compared to 2019 pre-pandemic rates.

In positive news, these figures show that more than half of international trips to China were made during the last quarter of 2023, indicating that travelers are regaining confidence.

This suggests that the country is on track to regain its position as a center for world travel, likely thanks to the government’s visa-exemption program and relaxing of pandemic restrictions.

Visa-Free Business Opportunities in China

It’s not only tourists who can benefit from China’s visa-free policies in 2024.

European businesspeople seeking new ventures or partnerships in China can also make use of their 15-day visa-exemption to connect with Chinese counterparts.

Authorities in China hope this relaxation will be reciprocated by European countries to the benefit of businesspeople around the world.

On the announcement of the expansion of visa-exempt countries, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi stated:

“We hope more countries will offer Chinese citizens visa facilitation and work with us to build fast-track networks for cross-border travels and encourage speedy resumption of international passenger flights. This will make it more convenient for Chinese citizens to travel abroad, and make foreign friends feel at home in China.”

China’s easing of visa requirements is a big step towards opening up economic opportunities to work with other nations and strengthening mutual understanding and cooperation.

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