Thou­sands en­joy visa-free cruise en­try

China Daily (USA) - - SHANGHAI - ByYURAN in Shang­hai yu­ran@chi­

About 2,600 for­eign tourists who ar­rived at the Shang­hai Wu­song Cruise Port aboard the Di­a­mond Princess Cruise on Oct 15 be­came the first group of peo­ple to ben­e­fit from the new 15-day visa-free pol­icy for over­seas cruise en­tries.

Ac­cord­ing to the Shang­hai Gen­eral Station of Im­mi­gra­tion In­spec­tion, the 15-day visa-free pol­icy took ef­fect on Oct 1.

To en­sure a smooth cus­toms process for th­ese tourists — they were trav­el­ling from Bu­san, South Korea — po­lice of­fi­cers from the Shang­hai Gen­eral Station of Im­mi­gra­tion In­spec­tion flew to Bu­san to carry out the en­try process.

A for­eign tourist group, which must have at least two mem­bers, is able to gain visa-free en­try to the port of Shang­hai as long as it has made prior ar­range­ments with legally-reg­is­tered Chi­nese tourism agen­cies.

Th­ese tourists are also al­lowed to travel to China’s coastal prov­inces as well as Bei­jing within the 15 days.

“We ex­pect the visa-free pol­icy to at­tract more for­eign tourists to Shang­hai as well as other cruise des­ti­na­tions and this will help boost the de­vel­op­ment of Shang­hai’s cruise tourism in­dus­try,” said a se­nior of­fi­cer from the Shang­hai Gen­eral Station of Im­mi­gra­tion In­spec­tion.

A se­nior of­fi­cer from the Shang­hai Gen­eral Station of Im­mi­gra­tion In­spec­tion.

He added that the pol­icy will also en­cour­age lo­cal travel agen­cies to de­sign more routes, es­pe­cially for for­eign cruise trav­el­ers in the re­gion, to pro­mote the growth of the cater­ing, hos­pi­tal­ity, trans­porta­tion and re­tail sec­tors.

A se­ries of train­ing ses­sions for the po­lice of­fi­cers in­volved in this visa-free ini­tia­tive was con­ducted by the Shang­hai Gen­eral Station of Im­mi­gra­tion In­spec­tion to en­sure that tourists are sub­jected to as short a wait as pos­si­ble upon ar­rival at the city’s port.

More than 20,000 for­eign tourists aboard six cruise ships are ex­pected to dock in Shang­hai and en­joy visa-free ac­cess by the end of this year.

This new pol­icy comes on the back of the im­ple­men­ta­tion of China’s first cross-re­gion visa-free tran­sit pol­icy in Jan­uary this year. This pol­icy per­mits for­eign vis­i­tors from 51 coun­tries to en­joy visa-free travel through the Yangzte River Delta to an­other des­ti­na­tion within 144 hours upon their ar­rival in China.

Shang­hai is the first city to is­sue vis­i­tors with QR code stick­ers, in­stead of the tra­di­tional stamps, that can be scanned to ac­cess in­for­ma­tion about this 144-hour visa-free pol­icy. The sticker can be at­tached to a tourist’s pass­port and be used for check­ing in at lo­cal ho­tels as well.

Ac­cord­ing to the au­thor­i­ties, there have been 25,000 en­tries into Shang­hai since the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the 144-hour visa-free pol­icy.

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