City to follow Beijing and Shanghai in introducing convenient policy
Guangzhou is to allow transit passengers 72-hour stays from August, the third Chinese city to introduce the visa-free policy.
Travelers from 45 countries, who intend to visit a third country and who hold air tickets, will be able to stay in the Guangdong provincial capital for three days without a visa and will be allowed to visit anywhere in the province during their trips.
Guangzhou is following Beijing and Shanghai in introducing the visa-free stays, which cover visitors from countries including France, Germany, the United States and Japan.
Zhang Yumin, general manager of Guangzhou Baiyun Airport Co, said the airport will see 1 million transit passengers this year, rising to more than 1.5 million in 2015.
It will join Shanghai Pudong International Airport and Beijing Capital International Airport as the country's top entry points for foreigners.
An official from Window of the World, a leading attraction in Shenzhen, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the tourist spot expects the new policy to draw more visitors from Europe and the US. About 20 percent of its visitors are foreigners. Many other Chinese cities are expected to introduce visa-free visits.
The State Council recently granted approval for Chengdu, the provincial capital of Sichuan, to become the first city in western China to launch 72-hour visa-free stays, but local authorities say they need time to prepare before the policy can be introduced.
In May, Tianjin said it has applied to launch the policy, but is still awaiting central government approval.
Chao Xiaohui, an official in charge of inbound tourism with the Shanghai tourism administration, said the visa-free policy introduced in the city in January benefited 5,700 people in the first six months of 2013. The most visitors came from the United States, with Australians in second place.
Beijing introduced the 72-hour visa-free policy for visitors from 45 countries on Jan 1.
The capital's tourism authority said the exact number of travelers benefiting from the policy is still unclear, but the city is expecting about 2 million overseas visitors on transit visas in 2013.
China received about 12.8 million foreign tourists in the first half of this year, 5 percent down on a year ago, according to the exit-entry authority under the Ministry of Public Security.