China will reopen its borders to tourists this Wednesday and will reissue all classes of visas after a three-year hiatus during the pandemic, in an attempt to boost its economy and tourism industry.
China is one of the last major countries to reopen to tourists. The announcement was made on Tuesday, after the government declared a “decisive victory” over COVID-19 in February.
As of Wednesday, the processing of all visas will resume. I also know will allow visa-free entry to destinations such as Hainan Island and for cruise ships arriving in Shanghai who did not have a visa requirement before COVID.19.
The Foreigners with visas prior to March 28, 2020 that are still valid will be able to enter China. Visa-free access will be allowed for foreigners arriving in Guangdong, in southern China, from Hong Kong and Macao.
The notice did not specify whether vaccination certificates or negative COVID-19 tests would be requiredalthough Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told reporters on Tuesday that China has “optimized remote testing measures for people arriving in China from relevant countries,” which would allow pre-registration with antigen tests instead of nucleic acid tests.
“All this has been well implemented, and in general epidemic risk is controllableWang said at a daily press conference.
The decision will “further facilitate the transfer of Chinese and foreign people,” according to a notice on the websites of various Chinese embassies and diplomatic missions.
The connoisseurs of the tourism sector do not expect a massive influx of visitors in the short term, nor a significant boost to the economy. In 2019, international tourism receipts represented only 0.9% of the Asian giant’s gross domestic product. But the resumption of issuing tourist visas marks a broader push by Beijing to normalize travel between China and the world, after it withdrew its warning to citizens against traveling abroad in January.
China had stuck to a strict “zero COVID” policy that included sudden lockdowns and daily COVID-19 tests to try to curb the virus. Most of those rules were dropped in December amid growing opposition.
Visa rules were eased after an initial approval of departures for groups of Chinese citizens. The results of those tests were positive, and the pandemic conditions have generally improved, Wang said.
“China will continue to make better arrangements for the safe, healthy and orderly movement of Chinese and foreign people based on scientific assessments and in view of the situation,” he said. “We also trust all parties to join China in creating favorable conditions for cross-border exchanges.”
But visitors may not flock immediately.
The Unfavorable views of China among Western democracies have hardened due to concern for human rights and Beijing’s aggressive foreign policyas well as suspicions surrounding the management of COVID-19, a global survey by the Pew Research Center showed in September.
(With information from AP and Reuters)
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