Opening Doors to European and Malaysian Travelers
In a bid to boost tourism and business visits, China has recently announced an exciting development for citizens of five European countries — France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and Spain — along with Malaysia. Starting from December 1, 2023, individuals from these countries will be able to enter China for up to 15 days without the need for a visa. This trial program is set to last for one year.
The primary goal behind this initiative, as stated by Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning during a daily briefing, is to “facilitate the high-quality development of Chinese and foreign personnel exchanges and high-level opening up to the outside world.”
Background: China’s Post-Pandemic Travel Landscape
China, like many other countries, had implemented strict pandemic measures, including mandatory quarantines, which deterred international travelers for nearly three years. While these restrictions were lifted earlier this year, international travel to China is yet to return to pre-pandemic levels.
Before the pandemic, China had allowed citizens of Brunei, Japan, and Singapore to enter without a visa, but this was suspended during the COVID-19 outbreak. Although visa-free entry for Brunei and Singapore was reinstated in July, Japan is still awaiting a similar update.
In the first half of the current year, China recorded 8.4 million entries and exits by foreigners, a stark contrast to the 977 million recorded in 2019. Despite the slow recovery, some notable figures, including Tesla’s Elon Musk and Apple’s Tim Cook, have visited for trade fairs and meetings.
China’s Holistic Approach to Tourism
Beyond the new visa-free schemes, China is actively promoting inbound tourism through partnerships with Trip.com, emphasizing cultural and historical attractions. The country is also investing in tourism infrastructure, incorporating technology, travel guides, and e-payment systems.
In a statement by Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning, she emphasized the significance of China’s decision to apply a unilateral visa-free policy to more countries, fostering personal, cultural, and economic relations. Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna of France welcomed the news during her visit to Beijing, calling it “excellent news,” and the German Ambassador Patricia Flor expressed hope for similar measures for all EU member states.
Current Visa-Free Options for Traveling to China
As of November 24, 2023, China has fully reopened its borders, signaling a recovery in international tourism. Visa-free travel policies that were in place before the pandemic are now back in effect. Here’s an overview of the current options:
1. Countries with Mutual Visa Exemption Agreements:
China has mutual visa exemption agreements with over 150 countries.
Citizens from certain countries can travel to China without a visa for up to 30 days for tourism, travel, business, and visiting family or friends. Find out if your country features on the list.
2. 15-Day Visa-Free Travel:
Citizens of Brunei and Singapore had this privilege reinstated on July 26, 2023.
On November 24, 2023, this policy was expanded to citizens of France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, and Malaysia.
For citizens from these countries, the visa-free period is for business, tourism, visiting relatives and friends, and transit, limited to 15 days.
3. 72/144-Hour Visa-Free Transit:
- Starting from November 17, 2023, Norwegian citizens can enjoy this policy in 23 Chinese cities.
What Does The New Visa-free Policy Mean For The Trade Show Industry in China?
By eliminating visa barriers, this policy is expected to stimulate increased international participation in trade events, fostering a more diverse attendee base and encouraging greater involvement from exhibitors in the visa-free countries. This development is likely to contribute to a more dynamic and globally interconnected trade show environment, fostering cross-industry collaborations, innovative discussions, and opportunities for business networking.
Facilitating Global Collaboration at WieTec 2024
The recent implementation of visa-free policy opens up exciting opportunities for WieTec 2024, the renowned environmental trade show scheduled for June 3-5 at the National Exhibition and Convention Center in Shanghai. This significant policy shift is expected to foster greater international collaboration within the environmental industry, bringing together professionals from diverse backgrounds. With enhanced accessibility, WieTec 2024 can serve as a hub for exchanging cutting-edge technologies, exploring sustainable solutions, and building partnerships that transcend geographical boundaries. The visa-free entry initiative aligns seamlessly with WieTec’s mission of promoting environmental innovation, promising an event that not only showcases the latest industry trends but also facilitates a global dialogue on the pressing challenges and opportunities in the environmental sector.