Shanghai and Beijing extend visa-free stays to 72 hours

From 1 January 2013, air passengers from 45 countries will be exempted from visas in Shanghai and Beijing for stays of up to 72 hours. Denmark, Sweden and Finland are among the 45 countries to be covered by the 72-hour visa-free policy.

After Beijing has announced a similar measure in the beginning of December 2012, Shanghai has announced its decision to waive visas for transit passengers from 45 countries.

The policy, which has been approved by the central government, extends the period of visa-free stay in the city from 48 to 72 hours for passengers passing through on their way to other destinations.

The 45 countries include Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Brunei, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Holland, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Mexico, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, Russia, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, South Korea, Sweden, Switzerland, the UK, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates and the US.

Zhang Chaomei, director with Shanghai Port Office, said that the extended period would boost passenger volume and “greatly benefit passengers.”

The visa-free policy is also expected to be introduced to port and railway borders as the city promotes the liner and cruise businesses.

Local travel agencies see the policy as a golden opportunity to boost tourism and plan to offer more travel products.

“Not only visitors but those business passengers will have plenty of time to get a good tour around the city,” said Zhong Xin, a vice general manager with Shanghai China Youth Travel Service.

The extra time will enable the visitors to get a better feel for the city and that should boost its tourist industry, Zhong said.

Shanghai border inspection authorities said special check areas will be set up at Hongqiao and Pudong international airports.

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