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Hainan's visa-free policy sparks surge in inbound tourism

By ​Chen Bowen in Haikou Source: Updated: 2024-03-22


A family watch a passenger plane outside Haikou Meilan International Airport in Haikou, Hainan province, on Feb 18. [Yuan Jingzhi/for China Daily]

A bit more than a month after South China's Hainan province extended its visa-free entry to visitors from 59 eligible countries, the number of inbound visitors has surpassed 30,000, according to statistics released at a press conference on Thursday morning. The most common purposes of entry are tourism and visiting friends and relatives.

Starting on Feb 9, citizens from 59 countries could enter Hainan visa-free for up to 30 days for various purposes, including business, visiting, family reunions, medical treatment, exhibitions, and sports competitions.

Luo Zhengyu, deputy chief of the Haikou General Station of Exit and Entry Frontier Inspection, highlighted Hainan's latest visa-free policy prospects at the press conference.

"With the upcoming Boao Forum for Asia Annual Conference 2024 and the fourth China International Consumer Products Expo on the horizon, there's a good opportunity to showcase and promote the province's visa-free policy to a wide range of audiences, both domestic and international," he said.

Liu Rutao, deputy director of the Hainan Provincial Bureau of International Economic Development, noted that expanding the 59 countries' visa-free entry policy presented opportunities for Chinese and overseas enterprises to leverage Hainan's strategic position and favorable business environment.

"By taking advantage of this policy, Hainan serves as a hub for inviting global buyers and partners to explore and negotiate cooperation opportunities. Chinese enterprises can establish a product display and trading center, an international exchange center, and an international operation headquarters in Hainan," he said.

Similarly, overseas enterprises can harness this policy to establish regional headquarters in Hainan, positioning themselves to access the Chinese, Southeast Asian and even global markets, according to Liu.

Hainan currently operates a network of 45 international passenger routes connecting 26 cities, such as Seoul, Singapore, Bangkok, Sydney, Auckland, Abu Dhabi, Moscow and Almaty.

Considered the most open and convenient entry policy in China, this allows international visitors from the 59 visa-free eligible countries to take a direct flight to Hainan from their home countries or other regions or transit through Hong Kong.