Inbound tourism soars with visa-free policies

By Gateway   |    2024-07-05 17:26:06

International tourists visit Norbulingka Palace in Lhasa. [Photo/China News Service]

This summer, China has seen a surge in overseas tourists. Typing “China Travel” on overseas social media, one can find numerous short videos by foreigners traveling in China.

Over the past six months, China has refined its inbound tourism policies. The widening of visa-free policies and agreements on mutual visa exemption has significantly boosted tourist arrivals, driving the recovery of inbound tourism.

According to data released by the National Immigration Administration, some 466,000 foreign visa documents were issued in the first quarter of 2024, up 118.8% year-on-year, and 1.988 million foreigners entered visa-free, up 266.1% year-on-year.

China has also worked to improve the convenience of ticket purchasing, dining, accommodation, and transportation for international tourists. Measures include enabling foreign visitors to make shopping payments with overseas cards and use car-hailing apps.

Kao Junhao comes from South Korean. The most impressive thing in his first trip to mainland China was the widespread use of convenient mobile payments. “In South Korea, we mainly use cash, but in China, it’s all done through apps. I think it’s very advanced!” he said.

Canadians Steve and Ivana arrived in China last December under the 144-hour transit visa-free policy and documented their Shanghai trip in a Vlog posted on YouTube. They experienced the metro, bought a cup of coffee through online payment, and tasted grilled skewers and Chinese pancakes in the snack street. They found a China that was completely different from their expectations.

“China is one of the most interesting countries I’ve ever visited!” Steve exclaimed in the video.

"Many foreign tourists find their preconceptions about China completely overturned upon arrival, with many praising the country's modernization," said Xu Xiaolei, Chief Brand Officer of China Youth Travel Service Group.

Xu noted that as inbound tourism recovers, foreign visitors are increasingly interested in local life and culture. They enjoy exploring streets and alleys, tasting street food, shopping in markets and malls, and using public transportation like subways and high-speed trains. These activities allow them to experience the real China firsthand.

Source: China Youth Network; trans-editing by Guo Yao

Inbound tourism soars with visa-free policies