China Lifts Travel Ban for US, Japan, & 70 Other Countries

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China’s culture and tourism ministry has announced the lifting of the ban on Chinese group travelers for over 70 countries. The pandemic-era restrictions were finally removed on August 10, 2023.

Chinese citizens traveling in an organized group can now visit key markets in Asia-Pacific, Europe, the Middle East and North America that were previously restricted.

These include:

  • Australia
  • Finland
  • Germany
  •  Israel
  • Japan
  • Lebanon
  • Oman (with an approved Oman eVisa)
  • Qatar (with an approved eVisa for Qatar)
  • South Korea
  • Sweden
  • The United Kingdom
  • The United States (with an approved US EVUS)

The announcement marks the 3rd time that China has relaxed travel restrictions for group travelers in 2023. Group travel bans were first lifted in January for 20 countries, including:

Restrictions were removed for an additional 40 countries in March. These included Brazil, France, Nepal (Tourist Visa for Nepal required), and Portugal.

China Lifts Travel Ban for US, Japan, & 70 Other Countries

Reactions to the Lifting of the Ban on Chinese Group Travel

The news that China has lifted its group travel ban for these 70 additional countries was met with enthusiasm from officials in many of the nations. These include Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, and Australian Trade and Tourism Minister Don Farrell.

“This is another positive step towards the stabilisation of our relationship with China”, Farrell stated.

The move was also heralded as “a significant win” for the U.S. tourism industry by

U.S. Commerce Department Secretary Gina Raimondo. She further described the news as the result of “months of hard work” alongside the Chinese culture and tourism ministry.

The head of the Los Angeles Tourism and Convention Board, Adam Burke, agreed that “the opening of group travel from China to the U.S. is a significant milestone”. He added that “it’s impossible to overstate the importance of Chinese tourism to Los Angeles”.

The enthusiasm is understandable, as tourists from mainland China spent more than travelers from any other country prior to the pandemic. In 2019 alone, Chinese citizens spent roughly $255 billion on travel abroad. Group tours contributed to around 60% of this.

Chinese Tourists Can Visit South Korea for First Time in 6 Years

South Korea is perhaps the most notable inclusion on the list of countries that Chinese tour groups can now visit. This is because China effectively banned its citizens from such trips following a dispute over the placing of a US missile defense system in Seoul in 2017.

It is, therefore, the first time in 6 years that Chinese tourists can visit South Korea in tour groups on a large scale. However, to do so, they must first obtain a visa from a South Korean consulate in China. This is mandatory regardless of the length of stay.

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