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8 Dec, 2012

Beijing to Give 72-hour Transit Visas for 45 Nationalities As of Jan 1, 2013


BEIJING, Dec. 6 (Xinhua) — Air travelers, including U.S. businessman David Brockman, are set to benefit from the announcement that Beijing will start a 72-hour visa-free stay policy for citizens of 45 countries in 2013. The move will bring much convenience to the likes of Brockman, who frequently flies to China, as getting a visa can currently take upto two weeks.

“As soon as the policy takes effect, I can take advantage of the chance of traveling to other Asian countries and spend three days in China where I can take time to talk with Chinese companies,” he said. From Jan. 1, 2013, tourists holding third country visas and plane tickets can apply for a transit without visa (TWOV) in the capital city at Beijing Capital International Airport, the Beijing municipal government announced on Wednesday.

The 45 countries were listed in accordance with the numbers of inbound overnight visitors in Beijing from 2009 to 2011 (See full list below). Foreign visitors are not permitted to leave Beijing to other Chinese cities during the 72 hours, and have to depart from Beijing.

Visitors have to register at a police station with their visas within 24 hours of their arrival, according to the government. The 72 hours will be calculated starting from the moment visitors get their transit stay permits, said Gao Dahua, deputy director of the exit and entry administrative corps of Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau.

Beijing Capital International Airport is the only entry-exit port applicable for the policy, Gao stressed. The policy may enhance the status of Beijing Capital International Airport as an international air hub, said Gao Lijia, a general deputy manager with the airport.

The airport has seen about 7.6 million inbound and outbound foreign passengers during the first nine months in 2012 and 521,600 out of them are transit passengers, Gao said. He predicted that the policy will bring 600,000 to 800,000 transit visitors to China in 2013.

To help with the transit visitors, the airport will improve service facilities in the airport including special visa-free channels, said Li Chunfang, manager with the planning and development department of the airport. “We will set up a special service zone for transit visitors in our terminals, offering drinking water and reading materials,” Li elaborated, “Moreover, services including foreign currency exchange, mobile phone rental service, and left-luggage office will be provided for the convenience of tourists.”

Xu Jianqiang, chief economist of Air China, said the transit policy will also boost development of the air-travel market, creating more jobs. “A relaxed visa policy is common practice to boost the inbound tourist market,” said Wang Yue, deputy director with Beijing Municipal Commission of Tourism Development.

The current number of foreign visitors to Beijing is 5 million per year. The number is expected to double in three years after the TWOV policy comes into effect, the commission predicted. Travel agencies are also rushing to offer one to three-day personalized tour packages with cheaper prices to cater for the potential tourists, said Sun Lianqin, vice general manager of the BTG International Travel & Tours.

“As more than one third of the flights make a stopover in Beijing Capital International Airport during the night, our travel agencies will develop some night entertainment programs for the tourists,” Sun added.

New tax-free shops in the airport and in downtown Beijing are planned to be built to attract more foreign consumers. However, transit visitors will not be allowed to bring their pets or other animals with them within the 72 hours in China. Instead, pets will be temporarily kept at an appointed place for quarantine, according to a Beijing Entry-Exit Inspection and Quarantine Bureau spokesman. However, they can bring their guide dogs along with them under certain conditions.

The following are these countries listed in accordance with the numbers of inbound overnight visitors in Beijing from 2009 to 2011:

— Austria;

— Belgium;

— the Czech Republic;

— Denmark;

— Estonia;

— Finland;

— France;

— Germany;

— Greece;

— Hungary;

— Iceland;

— Italy;

— Latvia;

— the Republic of Lithuania;

— Luxembourg;

— the Republic of Malta;

— the Netherlands;

— Poland;

— Portugal;

— the Republic of Slovakia;

— the Republic of Slovenia;

— Spain;

— Sweden;

— Swiss;

— Russia;

— the United Kingdom of Britain;

— the Republic of Ireland;

— Cyprus;

— Bulgaria;

— Romania;

— Ukraine;

— the United States of America;

— Canada;

— Brazil;

— Mexico

— Argentina;

— Chile;

— Australia;

— New Zealand;

— the Republic of Korea;

— Japan;

— Singapore;

— Brunei;

— the United Arab Emirates;

— Qatar.