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Guangdong aims to boost tourism

updated: 2013-05-20

China Daily, May 17, 2013

Authorities implement new plan to increase travel, promote culture

Tourism authorities in Guangdong province have planned to develop high-end short tours for friends overseas, as the provincial capital has become the third Chinese city to allow foreign visitors to stay for 72 hours without a visa.

Sources with the Civil Aviation Administration of China said the State Council, China’s cabinet, has approved a 72-hour visa-free transit policy for Guangzhou, an important aviation transport center in South China.

Insiders said the policy will greatly boost tourism in Guangdong and the local economy.

The tourism authority in Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong, has identified some routes focusing on famous sites.

The authority has also called on local tourism agencies to develop tailored routes for foreign visitors.

The visa-free policy will greatly boost local tourism and promote the local culture, the Guangzhou Tourism Administration said.

About 2,000 foreign passengers transit each day via China Southern Airlines at Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport, according to the tourism authority.

Zou Yingping, a media officer at China Southern Airlines, said it has not been announced when the policy will take effect.

"But we have already prepared for the policy. And we have started to study the possibilities of developing some products that are tailored to foreign visitors," Zou told.

Sources with the southern airline carrier said it has asked some managers to learn from the experiences in Shanghai, where the 72-hour visa-free policy took effect earlier this year.

Since Jan 1, travelers from 45 countries can make 72-hour visa-free visits in Beijing and Shanghai.

Visitors holding third-country visas and plane tickets are allowed to apply for a transit without visa at airports in Beijing and Shanghai.

"We are making efforts to optimize the transit service to attract more foreign passengers," Zou said.

Since the policy was introduced, Shanghai and Beijing have seen an increased number of foreign visitors.

Beijing expects the number of annual inbound tourists to double to 10 million within the next three years as of a result of the policy, the Beijing Commission of Tourism Development said.

However, Wan Qingtao, a researcher at the South China Urban Development Institute, said Guangzhou’s visa-free policy will not have a significant impact on the local economy.

"Compared with Beijing and Shanghai, Guangzhou is not considered a sightseeing destination for foreigners," Wan said.

Guangzhou, in the centre of the prosperous Pearl River Delta region, is more of a trade and commercial city. "Still, Guangzhou will be a transit city for foreign visitors, who are more keen to tour to other cities in the Pearl River Delta," Wan said.

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