China is set to start welcoming tourists for the first time in three years with the announcement that visas will be issued again from Wednesday 15th March. Foreign tourists haven’t been able to travel to China since the pandemic began due to the country’s strict COVID control measures.
The foreign ministry stated that areas in China that did not require visas prior to the pandemic will revert to visa-free entry. This means that passengers aboard cruise ships passing through Shanghai port as well as travellers visiting the southern tourist island of Hainan will no longer require visas. The ministry has also stated that foreign travellers who hold visas issued before 28th March 2020 are welcome to enter China as long as their visas remain valid.
China’s $17 trillion economy last year suffered one of its slowest rates of growth in fifty years. Resuming the issuance of visas should help to boost the tourism sector.
The announcement comes as Beijing looks to normalise travel to and from China, having abandoned its zero COVID policies in December. In January, China also withdrew its advisory against outbound travel and ended its quarantine requirements for incoming travellers.