Shanghai Mulls Longer Visa-free Stays
Shanghai Daily, July 26, 2012
A visa-free policy allowing travelers to stay in Shanghai for 48 hours before leaving for their next foreign destination may be extended, the city's border police revealed yesterday.
Under consideration is a change in policy which would allow the time period to be 72 hours.
The visa-free policy is seen as part of the city's efforts to attract more travelers and visitors and enhance Shanghai's reputation as an air transport hub.
Lu Zhitao, deputy director of the Shanghai Exit and Entrance Frontier Inspection Station, said yesterday that the new policy would "greatly benefit passengers and airlines as well."
Lu said the policy had been approved by the State Council, China's Canibet, and they were working on the details of how it would be applied. No timetable for its introduction was announced yesterday.
The visa-free policy was first introduced in 2000 at the city's two airports, Hongqiao and Pudong.
Police said 2,923 people used the 48-hour visa-free period last year, an increase of 78.5 percent on 2010.
A 24-hour visa-free stay is available to all transferring international passengers passing through Shanghai while the 48-hour policy is available to 32 countries including the United Kingdom, the United States, Japan, Singapore, Germany, France, Hungary and Switzerland.
More foreign countries may be included in the new policy.
The visa-free policy is also expected to be extended to railways and ports.
Shanghai's international airports saw a slower increase in passenger volume and cargo transport last year amid the global economic slowdown and weakened trade growth.
The changes in the visa-free policy are part of the city's bid to reverse that trend.
Last year, Pudong International Airport fell one place to 21st on the list of the world's busiest air hubs in terms of passenger volume.
In the first half of this year, more than 12.64 million international air travelers used the city's two airports, a 10.5 percent increase on the same period in the previous year.
There were 410,000 passengers transferring to other international flights at the Pudong airport last year, an 80 percent increase on the total for 2010.
Since March, passengers transferring to other international flights at Pudong within 24 hours have also been exempt from double border inspections. It's the first time the practice has been used at airports on the Chinese mainland.
Police officers at the airport expressed that the practice "speeds up the process and saves time."
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