Intl tourists gain better travel experience with China's preferential measures

Updated:  May 17, 2024 L M S

During the 2024 May Day holiday, China's immigration authority recorded a total of 779,000 entry and exit trips made by international travelers, a 98.7 percent increase compared to a year ago.

From south China's island province Hainan to Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region by the country's northwest border, wherever they visit, foreign travelers are witnessing more convenience in their trip in China.

Against the backdrop of increasing inbound tourists, China is actively adjusting its relevant policies and putting in place favorable measures to address the need of international travelers.

"I really like China. This time, I visited places including Shanghai, Hangzhou, Guangzhou, and Shenzhen. These places are all very fun. I will definitely come back again," said Yelassai Maksat, a Kazakhstani traveler who came to China via Horgos Port in China's Xinjiang.


Back in March, Zuiderdam, a cruise ship operated by international cruise travel company Holland America Line, stopped at Dalian in northeast China's Liaoning Province, and north China's Tianjin Municipality.

The ship, carrying more than 2,000 passengers and crew members from over 40 countries and regions, signifies the positive momentum of China's cruise travel sector. In the first quarter of this year, the country saw cruise passenger trips exceed 190,000 -- surpassing the figure registered for the whole of 2023.

A large part of this momentum can be attributed to improvements in travel-related policies, especially visa policies.

In October 2023, China implemented regional visa exemption for inbound cruise travel tourists. Cruise tour groups organized and received by domestically-registered travel agencies, and entering China via cruise terminals in Shanghai, are granted visa-free entrance. They are also allowed to stay for at most 15 days in coastal provincial-level regions and Beijing.

On May 15, the policy's coverage was expanded to all cruise terminals in China.

Visa-free policy also played a significant part in boosting local tourism development for Hainan Province. Earlier in February, China announced the extension of visa-free policy of entering the island, allowing eligible visitors to enter the province for purposes including travelling.

With the policy's implementation, in the three months' time from Feb. 9 to May 9, more than 75,000 foreign travelers entered the island visa-free.

China has also decided to extend the visa-free policy for short-term visits to China for 12 countries until the end of 2025, so as to promote exchanges between Chinese and foreign nationals.

"This (extension of the visa-free policy) is an opportunity for Hungarian travelers. So this will definitely help to generate more business, and we highly appreciate the decision of the Chinese government," said Konnyid Laszlo, CEO of Hungarian Tourism Agency.


Visiting China for the first time, Rana, a Pakistani national, was surprised to find that he could use Pakistan's NayaPay mobile app to pay for items in the Blue Harbor international shopping park in Beijing.

"It's really convenient to be able to scan and pay like in my home country," he said.

Earlier this year, the trouble met by foreign travelers in paying bills caught public attention in China. It turned out that the country's mobile payment system proved to be not so convenient for foreigners who are accustomed to paying by credit card, cash, or mobile payment apps in their home countries.

To address the problem, a guideline on optimizing payment services was issued by the General Office of the State Council in March. It particularly required large business districts, tourist attractions, hotels, hospitals and other key locations to support diversified payment options.

So far, the guidelines are seeing effective implementation. For instance, local authorities in Tianjin worked with financial institutions and payment service providers in upgrading commercial areas so that they can meet more diversified payment service needs.

To better serve foreign travelers, many tourist attractions in China have also studied the needs and preferences of their target customers in order to improve services.

In recent years, the city of Zhangjiajie in central China's Hunan Province gained high popularity among tourists from the Republic of Korea (ROK). In 2023, ROK tourists accounted for over 40 percent of the area's overseas tourists.

To ensure that ROK tourists gain best travel experience, the city yielded considerable efforts to create a friendly environment.

Local public transport stations, hotels and restaurants were all equipped with information signs in Korean, while local vendor booths and markets are able to provide services in basic Korean. Also, the city has more than 200 Korean-speaking tour guides and over 400 Korean-speaking narrators to facilitate the tourists' visit.

Zhangjiajie will continue to develop itself into a world-class tourist destination, develop diverse tourism products, improve its tourism reception facilities, and provide more thoughtful tourism services, said Liu Ge'an, secretary of the Zhangjiajie Municipal Party Committee.