China says visa-free travel policy has boosted tourism

BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s foreign ministry said on Tuesday its visa-free travel policy has produced a clear effect, making things easier for travellers.

“Going forward, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will continue to adjust visa policies to create more favourable conditions and further facilitate cross-border travel,” spokesperson Wang Wenbin told a press briefing when asked for an update on tourism after China announced the policy, which covers several European countries and Malaysia.

The policy came into effect Dec. 1 and the ministry, citing immigration data, said about 7,000 of nearly 18,000 travellers from France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and Malaysia – the countries covered by the visa waiver – entered China in the first three days of the month.

Daily average tourist numbers from those countries have risen by 39% on the first three days of December compared to on the last day of November, Wang said.

Germany’s ambassador to China had expressed hope that China would extend the measures to all European Union members.

(Reporting by Andrew Hayley; Writing by Liz Lee and Bernard Orr; Editing by Tom Hogue and Miral Fahmy)