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Beijing to allow tourists 72-hour, visa-free stays

 

Overseas travelers soon will be able to enjoy a visa-free stay of up to 72 hours while in transit in Beijing to attract more tourism spending in the capital city, officials said over the weekend.

Ding Xiangyang, vice mayor of Beijing, said spending by foreigners is usually three times that of domestic travelers and the new policy of a 72-hour visa-free visit should increase the city's tourism income, the Beijing News reported yesterday. Experts expect the 72-hour policy to bring 400 million yuan (US$63 million) to Beijing every year.

The new policy has been approved by the State Council but no timetable for its introduction was announced.

At present, only a few cities in China, including Shanghai, allow some overseas travelers to stay for 48 hours.

In Shanghai, nearly 3,000 people enjoyed the 48-hour visa-free period last year, an increase of 78.5 percent from 2010, according to Shanghai police. The 48-hour policy is available to 32 countries' citizens, including the US, the UK, Japan, Singapore, Germany, France, Hungary and Switzerland. The visa-free policy is expected to be extended to railways and ports next year.