International visitors may soon be able to visit China's third largest city for up to 72 hours without the need for a China visa.
11 April 2013
Third city to allow China visa-free visits
Guangzhou, the country's third largest city, is to follow Shanghai and Beijing in allowing short term visitors to spend time in the city without the need for a China visa.
Southern China's largest city is a major international port and it is hoped the move to waive the need for a China visa for visits of less than 72 hours will improve tourism to the city, according to the general manager of China Southern Airlines.
"We are actively talking with the local airport and customs authorities to push the implementation of the visa-free transit policy as soon as possible," said Tan Wangen.
"If the negotiations go smoothly, the policy will be implemented in Guangzhou within this year.
"Optimising the transit service is a priority for us this year to attract more foreign passengers."
If the move is implemented successful, Guangzhou will join Shanghai and Beijing in allowing passengers holding third country visas and airline tickets to leave the airport and explore the city. Passengers are not allowed to travel to other cities during their stay and must depart from the same airport.
The schemes already in place in Shanghai and Beijing have already proved popular enough to justify their continuation with over 1,000 visitors travelling visa-free in Shanghai alone this year.
Mr Wangen said the scheme is ideal for Guangzhou given its close proximity to Hong Kong, Macau and the Pearl River Delta. The airline has also recently signed a deal with New Zealand to allow frequent Chinese visitors to obtain visas through an expedited process and Mr Wangen says the agreement will benefit both countries' economies.
"The Guangzhou-Auckland daily flight has become a major route for the company and is in high demand by both Chinese and foreign travellers."
The Worldwide Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in Chinese visa and immigration services.