Tourism bureau applies for transit visa extension
The tourism administration has joined Beijing Capital International Airport (BCIA) to apply to extend the current 24-hour Transit Without Visa (TWOV) policy to seven days, after the head of the airport raised the proposal in the municipal people's congress in late January. As many as 4.5 million international travelers are expected to be affected, the tourism administration said.
Statistics on spending among travelers said the local tourism industry should benefit from an extra $4.5 billion due to the extension, according to the Beijing News yesterday.
Wang Meng, a travel agent for China Wonderful Tour, which receives about 300,000 international travelers annually, said a longer TWOV would attract more international travelers. However, he is not optimistic of a high quantity.
"Most of our customers are from the US, Australia, Canada and the UK. They seldom have the chance to travel to China because of the long distance, so they always enjoy themselves when they do. Seven days is not enough," Wang said, from his 10 years of experience in the field.
He added that his clients usually stay 10 to 15 days in China to visit the three must-go cities - Beijing, Shanghai and Xi'an.
"I think a seven-day TWOV will only attract 10 to 15 percent more international travelers," he said.
Kempinski Hotel Beijing welcomed the proposal, believing it would benefit the hotel business and local economy.
"We had 170,000 customers last year and 60 percent of them were international visitors," said Li Bo, Kempinski's regional manager of China. Li said a seven-day TWOV could save travelers a mountain of paperwork.
However, a police officer from the exit and entry administration of the Beijing public security bureau, who asked not to be named, expressed concern. "This plan will put a lot of pressure on national security," he said, stating that many countries have tighter TWOV rules than in Beijing.
In 2009, Beijing received 4.12 million inbound travelers, contributing $4.35 billion. The goal set by the Beijing Tourism Administration in 2010 is 4.25 million trips and $4.8 billion.
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