Tourist in­cen­tive

China Daily (USA) - - FRONT PAGE - By SU ZHOU in Bei­jing and YU RAN in Shang­hai Con­tact the writ­ers at suzhou@chi­nadaily.com.cn

A 144-hour, visa-free en­try pol­icy for for­eign­ers who come to Shang­hai as well as Jiangsu and Zhe­jiang prov­inces boosts the num­ber of tourists in the Yangtze River Delta.

A 144-hour visa-free en­try pol­icy, which al­lows greater flex­i­bil­ity for for­eign­ers who come to Shang­hai and nearby prov­inces, has boosted the num­ber of in­bound tourists in the Yangtze River Delta.

The Shang­hai Gen­eral Sta­tion of Im­mi­gra­tion In­spec­tion said that as of Sept 1, more than 18,000 for­eign tourists this year had taken ad­van­tage of the pol­icy to en­ter Shang­hai for a short stay — 60 per­cent more than in 2015.

Since Jan 30, when China en­acted the ex­panded visafree pol­icy, el­i­gi­ble vis­i­tors or busi­ness­peo­ple trav­el­ing in the Yangtze River Delta area— Shang­hai, Hangzhou or Nan­jing — au­to­mat­i­cally qual­ify for 144 hours for busi­ness or sim­ply to ex­plore the re­gion. Vis­i­tors from 51 coun­tries can en­joy the pol­icy, in­clud­ing the United States, the United King­dom and Ja­pan.

In the past, Shang­hai and other im­por­tant main­land tourism des­ti­na­tions only of­fered a 72-hour visa-free stay for in­bound for­eign vis­i­tors. Travel in­dus­try in­sid­ers say the av­er­age stay of for­eign vis­i­tors is around 102 hours.

“I think it is a use­ful pol­icy for trav­el­ers who pass by Shang­hai for a short stop then leave for an­other coun­try. I’ve rec­om­mended it to some ofmy friends back in Canada who plan to take a trip to Asia,” said Naeim Mah­davi, a Cana­dian teacher work­ing at the High School Af­fil­i­ated with Shang­hai Jiao TongUniver­sity.

With 144 hours and an en­larged re­gion that in­cludes Jiangsu and Zhe­jiang prov­inces, more for­eign tourists will take ad­van­tage of the con­ve­nience, Mah­davi said.

In­dus­try in­sid­ers all at­tribute the growth to a re­bound in in­bound tourism in China. In the first half of this year, just un­der 68 mil­lion vis­its were paid by over­seas vis­i­tors, a jump of 3.8 per­cent year-onyear. Vis­its by for­eign­ers reached 13.47 mil­lion, a 9 per­cent in­crease.

Liu Simin, vice-pres­i­dent of the tourism branch of the China So­ci­ety for Fu­tures Stud­ies, said China should take a more ac­tive ap­proach in ex­plor­ing tourism re­sources in ad­di­tion to an­cient cul­tural his­tory and nat­u­ral land­scapes.

“Decades have passed, but the most pop­u­lar tourism des­ti­na­tions haven’t changed. We should pro­vide some­thing more be­sides the Great Wall, the Palace Mu­seum and the Summer Palace,” he said. “China is too big for one trip. We should pro­vide a friendly en­vi­ron­ment so that vis­i­tors will come for a sec­ond or third trip, and even rec­om­mend China to their friends and rel­a­tives.”

“Andthis­mean­sChi­na­needs a new way of in­tro­duc­ing it­self and a for­eign-friendly en­vi­ron­ment for in­bound tourists,” he added.

LIU YING / XIN­HUA

A for­eign tourist learns to paint on a tra­di­tional Chi­nese fan in Shang­hai in July.

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