CHINA's State Council has approved a new visa policy that will grant foreign transit visitors to Shanghai with visa-free access for up to 72 hours, an extension over the current 48-hour waiver.
Currently, a 24-hour visa-free stay is available to all international passengers passing through Shanghai, while the 48-hour waiver is available to citizens of 32 countries.
Lu Zhitao, deputy director of the Shanghai Exit & Entrance Frontier Inspection Station, said the expanded policy would "greatly benefit both passengers and airlines." Authorities are still working out how the system will be implemented, and a timetable for its introduction has not yet been finalised.
Ding Jianmin, assistant general manager of Shanghai CITS International Travel Service, does not expect the new policy to increase business from the stopover crowd.
"Japanese tourists have been granted 72-hour visa-free stays for many years, and we never saw a surge in numbers. When tourists visit China, they usually spend at least 10 days. So a 72-hour visa-free stay is no big difference from a 48-hour policy,” he explained.
Beijing is also considering implementing a similar initiative that grants foreign tourists with visa-free access for up to 72 hours (TTG Asia e-Daily, May 31, 2012).