China is beginning to grant visas to foreign visitors again, the first time since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic three years. All visa types will be available starting Wednesday.
“The decision is made to further facilitate cross-border travel,” state-run news agency Xinhua reported, citing the country’s Foreign Ministry.
China dumped its “zero-COVID” policy in December last year, allowing full international travel since early this year.
According to the daily South China Morning Post, China will also “resume visa-free entry for several places, including Hainan Island and for cruise ships that stop in Shanghai, and into Guangdong, for people from Hong Kong and Macau.”
Events in China that are available to people from other countries are starting up again, such as the China Development Forum in Beijing later in March and the Shanghai Autoshow in April. The Asian Games, which happen once every four years and were delayed due to the pandemic, will be held in the city of Hangzhou in September.
In a further relaxation of controls on outbound tourism, China added another 40 countries to its list for which group tours are allowed, bringing the total number of countries to 60. But the list still excludes Japan, South Korea, Australia and the United States.
In 2022, approximately 115.7 million trips were taken in and out of China, with foreign travelers making up 4.5 million of these journeys.
By contrast, China saw a total of 670 million trips in 2019, with foreign visitors making up 97.7 million of that number prior to the emergence of COVID-19.