Saturday, May 18, 2024

Cuba opens visa-free doors to Chinese tourists as direct flights resume

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Chinese passport holders will be able to enter Cuba without a visa this month as direct flights resume between the two countries.

Cuban Tourism Minister Juan Carlos Garcia announced the visa-free policy at the Cuban International Tourism Fair held in the seaside resort of Cayo Coco island on the weekend, saying China would also be the event’s “guest of honour” next year.

State news agency Xinhua quoted Garcia as saying the policy would come into effect this month and direct flights between China and Cuba would resume on May 17, after being suspended during the Covid-19 pandemic.

02:27

China expands visa-free travel to 6 new countries

China expands visa-free travel to 6 new countries

On Sunday, searches for hotels in Cuba and flights to the country on online travel agency Ctrip soared after the announcement, according to Shanghai-based news outlet The Paper.

Ctrip vice-president Qin Jing said the distance and cost of travelling to Cuba meant it had not been a popular destination for Chinese tourists but its unique cultural and natural landscape would have strong appeal.

“With this visa exemption and the recent opening or resumption of direct flights from China to Mexico, Brazil, Cuba, and other Latin American destinations, the time and cost for tourists are expected to significantly decrease,” The Paper quoted Qin as saying.

China is Cuba’s largest trade partner, with bilateral trade amounting to US$862 million last year.

02:29

Thailand rolls out red carpet for Chinese tourists on visa-free scheme

Thailand rolls out red carpet for Chinese tourists on visa-free scheme

The announcement came at the end of China’s five-day “golden week” Labour Day break, which started on May 1.

CCTV reported that more people were heading overseas for the holiday, with the number of booking for international flights on May 1 20 per cent higher than the same time in 2019 before the pandemic.
Europe and the Middle East were among the favoured destinations, according to state broadcaster, but tickets were in particularly high demand for countries with visa-free schemes with China, such as Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Georgia and Kazakhstan, it said.

01:23

Singaporeans allowed into China visa-free for 15-days after three years of suspension

Singaporeans allowed into China visa-free for 15-days after three years of suspension

In a report last month ForwardKeys, a travel forecaster that analyses air ticketing, travel agency and other industry data, said: “Relaxed visa requirements play a significant role in attracting Chinese tourists.”

But ForwardKeys china market analyst Nancy Dai said other factors “like safety concerns and flight connectivity also play a crucial role” when booking a holiday destination.

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