China is set to reopen its doors to foreign tourists for the first time in three years since the COVID-19 pandemic began. The country’s foreign ministry announced that the issuance of all categories of visas to foreign tourists, including visa-free entry for certain regions and group tours, will be resumed. The move is expected to help rekindle the country’s $17 trillion economy following the recent victory over the surge in the virus.
The regions which previously did not require visas prior to the pandemic, including the popular tourist destination of Hainan and cruise ships docking at the Shanghai port, will once again allow visa-free entry. Additionally, foreign visitors from Hong Kong and Macau will receive visa-free entry in the southern manufacturing hub of Guangdong.
The Asian country has added another 40 countries to its list for which group tours are allowed, bringing the total number of countries to 60. However, Japan, South Korea, Australia, and the United States are still not included in the list. Furthermore, foreigners holding valid visas issued before March 28, 2020, will also be allowed to enter China.
In 2022, the number of cross-border trips made in and out of China was only 115.7 million, with foreigners accounting for approximately 4.5 million, a significant decline compared to 2019 when China recorded 670 million trips overall, with foreigners accounting for 97.7 million, prior to the COVID-19 outbreak.