72-HOUR VISA-FREE

China Daily (Canada) - - FOCUS -

For­eign­ers who want to know more about Chengdu’s 72-hour visa-free pol­icy can search fa­mous so­cial net­work such as Twit­ter, Face­book and In­sta­gram for pic­tures and text.

The use of so­cial net­work­ing sites is part of the on­line mar­ket­ing plan by Chengdu Cul­ture & Tourism De­vel­op­ment Group to pub­li­cize the pol­icy world­wide, es­pe­cially in the United States and the Europe.

The visa pol­icy, which took ef­fect last Septem­ber, al­lows cit­i­zens from 51 coun­tries in Asia, Europe, the Amer­i­cas and Ocea­nia to spend three days in Chengdu if they have valid visas and on­ward flight tick­ets.

The cap­i­tal of Sichuan prov­ince is the first city in the western re­gion of China to of­fer for­eign tourists a three-day v isa and the fourth na­tion­wide to adopt the pol­icy fol­low­ing Shang­hai, Bei­jing and Guangzhou. In ad­di­tion to ad­ver­tis­ing on in­ter­na­tion­ally in­flu­en­tial Web por­tals, the com­pany also set up a Chengdu page with the theme “72 Chal­lenge — Come to Chengdu” on Tripad­vi­sor, the world’s largest web­site pro­vid­ing tourism re­views and ad­vice.

As well “we also shot three in­ter­est­ing and cre­ative doc­u­men­taries to build the brand and up­loaded them on You- Tube”, said Wang Xin, deputy di­rec­tor of Chengdu Bureau of Ex­po­si­tions.

The first video cov­er­ing ba­sic in­for­ma­tion and tips about the pol­icy alone has had more than 100,000 hits from Euro­pean and US users.

The sec­ond video called “Chal­lenge Chengdu” shows ex­pats in­vited to iconic lo­cal at­trac­tions such as gi­ant pan­das, mahjong, spicy hot­pot and the skills of chang­ing faces in Sichuan opera.

The third video called “Amaz­ing Chengdu” pro­vides sev­eral travel plans and ad­vice for tourists en­joy­ing the 72-hour pol­icy.

The com­pany also in­vited some tourism in­dus­try opin­ion lead­ers from YouTube to ex­pe­ri­ence the pol­icy and have a three-day travel in the city. Their videos, pic­tures and ar­ti­cles can be found in Twit­ter, Face­book and In­sta­gram.

To deal with the po­ten­tial in­crease in the num­ber of for­eign tourists, the com­pany made ef­forts to add more fa­cil­i­ties and en­hance English­language train­ing for ser­vice people.

Also, the pol­icy will bring more op­por­tu­ni­ties to the ex­hi­bi­tion in­dus­try in the south­west­ern me­trop­o­lis, said a lo­cal of­fi­cial.

“It will be im­por­tant for Chengdu to in­tro­duce more glob­ally fa­mous and pro­fes­sional ex­hi­bi­tions in the fu­ture,” said Wang Xin, deputy di­rec­tor of Chengdu Bureau of Ex­po­si­tions.

“It will also help the his­tor­i­cal city en­hance the level of in­ter­na­tion­al­iza­tion, ben­e­fit for­eign­ers who fre­quently par­tic­i­pate in multi­na­tional busi­ness ac­tiv­i­ties and of course fa­cil­i­tate trips of over­seas ex­hibitors,” he said.

Wang told China Daily that Her­bert Marner, chief fi­nan­cial of­fi­cer of Ger­many’s Koel­n­messe Co, en­joyed the 72-hour pol­icy last month.

Chengdu hosted an in­ter­na­tional hard­ware show in April that was jointly or­ga­nized by Koel­n­messe and China Na­tional Hard­ware As­so­ci­a­tion.

“Marner planned to go to Sin­ga­pore for a con­fer­ence, but he also wanted to have a look at the open­ing cer­e­mony of the show,” Wang said. “Marner did not have a visa for China at that time, so he would not have been able to show up with­out the pol­icy.”

Marner stayed for a day in Chengdu and then fol­lowed his orig­i­nal plan to Sin­ga­pore.

“We have not made spe­cial plans for the pol­icy, but will con­sider it an im­por­tant high­light to at­tract over­seas in­vest­ments and search for part­ners,” Wang said.

This year, the bureau plans to es­tab­lish co­op­er­a­tive re­la­tion­ships with the UK’s Mont­gomery Co, China (Shang­hai) In­ter­na­tional Ex­hi­bi­tions and UBM Asia.

In 2013, Chengdu held 503 ma­jor events in­clud­ing 105 in­ter­na­tional con­ven­tions and 53 in­ter­na­tional ex­hi­bi­tions.

To­gether they gen­er­ated di­rect in­come of some 6 bil­lion yuan ($964 mil­lion), up 20 per­cent over the 2012.

Sta­tis­tics from the bureau show that at least 450 large events will be staged in the city this year and will gen­er­ate 6.5 bil­lion yuan in di­rect in­come and in­di­rect rev­enue of 54 bil­lion yuan.

YU PING / FOR CHINA DAILY

Spouses of del­e­gates to the 2013 Chengdu For­tune Global Fo­rum visit Jinli an­cient street. The fo­rum in May was the most im­por­tant among the 105 in­ter­na­tional con­ven­tions held in the city last year.

XIE MINGGANG / FOR CHINA DAILY

Chi­nese and for­eign vis­i­tors at last year’s West China Expo in Chengdu. The city hosted 53 in­ter­na­tional shows in 2013.

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