Thousands enjoy visa-free cruise entry
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.