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China launches 15-day visa-free entry for cruise passengers – UPI.com

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China on Wednesday began offering 15-day visa-free entry for cruise ship passengers. File Photo by Ding Ting/Xinhua/EPA-EFE

May 16 (UPI) — China launched a program allowing visa-free entry for tourists on cruise ships in group tours for 15 days or less in a bid to boost its post-pandemic economy.

The government announced the new rules on Wednesday, allowing visa-free entry at ports in 13 cities including Shanghai, Guangzhou, Tianjin, Dalian, Shenzhen and Qingdao for groups that arrive via Chinese travel agencies and have at least two people.

These visitors must also travel between ports on the same cruise ship until it leaves the country, although they are permitted to travel from the ports to Beijing as well as coastal areas.

Chinese officials called the move “an important measure to promote” China after the pandemic. They said in a statement that it “further reflects our country’s determination and attitude to fully deepen reform and opening up.”

China also made seven new cruise ports valid entry points for tourists from countries already eligible for visa-free travel.

China allows visa-free travelers from certain countries to stay there up to 144 hours. Officials added Norway to one of 54 countries eligible for visa-free travel in November. Tourists are allowed to visit 20 cities, including the capital of Beijing.

France, Germany, Italy and Spain are other European countries that are part of the “whitelist.” One country that is not is neighbor Japan, which has blacklisted its residents since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

A total of 35 million foreign travelers made their way to China in 2023, less than half of the pre-pandemic totals of 97 million.

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