Move to help boost inbound, outbound tourism industry
144-hour transit policy expanded to 54 countries
Published: Nov 19, 2023 09:54 PM
Foreign tourists enjoy themselves at Tiantan, a UNESCO World Heritage Site built in 1420, in Beijing. Photo: VCG

Foreign tourists enjoy themselves at Tiantan, a UNESCO World Heritage Site built in 1420, in Beijing. Photo: VCG

China expanded the 144-hour visa-free policy to passengers from 54 countries with transit flights in China on No-vember 17, a new move not only providing convenience for many foreign tourists who want to experience China's culture and scenery, but also bringing new opportunities for China's inbound and outbound tourism market.

Many experts and business insiders have quite a positive view on the relevant policies, saying that they can enhance China's international image. In addition to that, the increasing improvement of China's international travel policy also helps boost the inbound and outbound tourism industry, which could be seen in the 2023 China International Travel Mart, which concluded on Sunday.

"When China reopened to tourism, I was pleased to be there. Since then I've been to Macao, Hong Kong, Guangzhou and Zhuhai. I believe more people will follow my example and see more of this wonderful country especially with the reforms of the visa and entry rules," noted Zurab Pololikash-vili, secretary-general of the World Tourism Organization, on Friday. 

The top 10 sources of inbound travelers in the first 10 months of 2023 to the Chinese mainland were South Korea, the US, Japan, Singapore, Australia, Malaysia, Canada, Thailand, the United King-dom, and Germany, data published by Group shows. 

Meng Bo, who specializes in customized tours for foreigners in Southwest China's Xizang Autonomous Region, told the Global Times that his business has started to return to normal and the number of foreigners traveling to Xizang is increasing. 

"Mainly Asian tourists," Meng said.

Changes are not limited to inbound tourism. After three years of the pandemic, many of the world's popular destinations have been eagerly expecting the return of Chinese travelers.  

According to data from the China National Tourism Administration, outbound tourism has also been recovering. In the first half of the year, outbound tourism destinations received a total of 40.37 million mainland tourists. Among them, Thailand, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Malaysia, Myan-mar, Vietnam and other neighboring countries have been highly popular.

But at the same time, many visa-free countries have also become popular choices for Chinese tour-ists.

Jia Haihong, a staff member from the Tahiti Tourism Bureau, told the Global Times on Friday that the number of Chinese tourists to Tahiti this year has surpassed those of Japan and South Korea for the first time.

"As a direct flight from Tokyo to Tahiti is going to be launched soon, more Asian tourists are ex-pected to visit," Jia noted.

Georgia, which has been visa-free for China since September, is another popular destination for Chinese tourists.

Staff from Caucasus Voyagers, a tourism agency in Georgia, told the Global Times that because of the opening of direct flights from Urumqi in Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Re-gion to Georgia, it only takes about six or so hours to arrive from China.

The 2023 China International Travel Mart opened in Kunming, Southwest China's Yunnan Province, on Friday, with institutes and enterprises from over 70 countries and regions' participating.

As the largest travel expo in Asia, the three-day event showcases innovation and opportunities for the development of international tourism.