Chengdu Becomes the Fourth City of China (the First City in Mid-western China) to Implement 72-hour Transit Visa Exemption Policy
Foreign nationals from 45 countries may apply for the 72-hour transit visa exemption at the ports of entry at Shuangliu International Airport, Chengdu. These are: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherland, Poland, Portugal, Slovak, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland, Russia, Great Britain, Ireland, Cyprus, Bulgaria, Romania, Ukraine, the United States, Canada, Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Chile, Australia, New Zealand, Republic of Korea, Japan, Singapore, Brunei, United Arab Emirates and Qatar.
After the implementation of the 72-hour transit visa exemption policy in Chengdu, foreign nationals from the above-mentioned 45 countries with valid international traveling documents and air ticket for a connecting flight with confirmed date of flight and seat for a third country (region) can transit from the Shuangliu International Airport and stay within the administration precincts of Chengdu for 72 hours. “According to the regulations, the foreign nationals’ duration of stay begins to be calculated from 0:00 a.m. the next day after entry. Therefore, foreign nationals can stay over 90 hours theoretically.”
In line with the international open environment, foreign nationals from 45 countries will enjoy visa transit exemption in Chengdu.
The easier visa policy signifies the degree of the opening-up of the city and it is common international practice to relax visa regulations to increase openness, promote tourism, and further economic and trade development. After arduous efforts by the Sichuan Provincial Government and the Chengdu Municipal Government, the 72-hour transit visa exemption policy for some foreigners, approved by the State Council, will begin to be implemented in the port of Shuangliu International Airport, Chengdu, and this will further create an open environment and facilitate economic and trade personnel exchanges and provide extra conveniences for foreign travelers to Chengdu.
The transit visa exemption policy for foreign nationals means foreigners can transit from the third country (region) and have a short stay in the third country without applying for a transit visa in accordance with the relevant regulations.
Chen Yongzhi, Vice Captain of the Sichuan Provincial Public Security Border Defense Corps says that after the implementation of the policy, foreign nationals of the above-mentioned 45 countries with valid international traveling documents and air ticket for a connecting flight with confirmed date of flight and seat for a third country (region) can transit at Shuangliu International Airport, Chengdu and stay within the administration precincts of Chengdu for up to 72 hours. Transit personnel coming to Chengdu will not need to apply for a visa, since the airline will deal with the situation by checking air tickets. When they go through the entry procedures, the visa and air tickets need to be checked.
The policy will provide benefits for short-term tourism and official activities of foreign nationals coming to Chengdu. It is worth mentioning that the time for the visa transit exemption is 72 hours and that transit foreign nationals have to stay within the administration precincts of Chengdu. In case of special need to stay longer than 72 hours or the need to go beyond the Chengdu boundaries, passengers should go through relevant procedures. According to the relevant regulations, the foreign nationals’ duration of stay begins to be calculated from 0:00 a.m. the next day after entry. Therefore, foreign nationals can, in theory, stay over 90 hours.
Why the policy has been approved
The policy of “complete openness” providing an important basis, Chengdu has become the first city in mid-west China to implement 72-hour transit visa exemption.
Internationally, Singapore, Dubai, Malaysia, Thailand, the Republic of Korea and Japan have all implemented transit visa exemption policy with different time-bands. The number of visa exemption arrivals in Dubai (The United Arab Emirates) in 2011 hit 10.01 million and the number in Singapore is more than 5 million, figures which have vigorously boosted local tourism and aviation. Following on from Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, Chengdu becomes the fourth city of China (the first city in mid-west China) to implement a 72-hour transit visa exemption policy.
The person-in-charge of Chengdu FAO stated that Chengdu is more and more open to the outside world and is attracting increasing numbers of foreign friends to Chengdu for work and living. In recent years, the Chengdu Municipality has centered on the objective of building an open regional center and international metropolis, strived to build its production and service environment with international advantages and bringing its administrative environment in line with international norms. As a consequence, foreign exchanges with Chengdu have further expanded and the level of open economy has improved, laying a solid foundation for the implementation of the 72-hour transit visa exemption policy.
By June 30th 2013, Chengdu had opened 21 direct passenger flights and 22 transfer flights covering Europe, Oceania, the Middle East, South Asia and Southeast Asia as well as Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan. Chengdu has also opened the Chengdu – Europe HSR to Lodz (Poland). The average increase of the entry-exit personnel at its aviation port hit 37% over the last 4 years. In the first half of 2013, the number of entry-exit personnel is 1.08 person-times, with a daily average of 6,300 and more than 10,000 during peak times. It is estimated to be more than 2.3 million for the year as a whole.
72-hour transit visa exemption policy will vigorously boost the course of internationalization:
At present, 245 Fortune 500 companies have settled in Chengdu, ranking it first in mid-west China. Chengdu, with 17 foreign chambers of commerce, has also established sister city relations with 21 cities and friendly and cooperative relations with 32 other cities in the world. The spokesperson for the Chengdu FAO, Chengdu Investment Promotion Commission, Chengdu Port Administration Office and Chengdu Tourism Office, reiterated that the policy will deepen the policy of “complete openness” of Chengdu and greatly boost Chengdu’s internationalization process.
Chengdu will have advantages in soliciting trade and attracting foreign investment:
“The 72-hour transit visa exemption will provide competitive convenient conditions for foreign travel traders to come to Sichuan to have investigations and projects negotiations”. Chen Fu, Deputy Director-General of Chengdu Investment Promotion says the implementation of the policy is good news for Chengdu. He also emphasizes that the policy will facilitate the international economic and trade personnel exchanges, promote the development of exposition, convention and trade, trade facilitation of Chengdu and steady increase of foreign trade.
As analyses by Chen Fu shows, 20 of the 45 countries eligible for the 72-hour transit visa exemption are home to the overseas Fortune 500 companies settling in Chengdu and 20 out of the top 30 investing counties in Chengdu belong to these 45 countries. As a consequence, the 72-hour transit visa exemption will play a very important role in trade soliciting and attracting foreign investment, which will be crucial in the future.
Chengdu will break the bottle-neck in tourist services:
“We will integrate resources of tourism, shopping, hotel, catering and transport and encourage airlines with international routes to make full use of policies to provide safe, efficient and individual featured services for transit passengers.” The spokesperson of Chengdu Tourism Bureau believes that the policy will stimulate consumption in tourism, transport, shopping, accommodation and leisure and is a golden historic opportunity for Chengdu to break the bottleneck of inbound tourism.
The person-in-charge held that Chengdu is now well-prepared for the implementation of the 72-hour transit visa exemption policy and ready to provide safe and efficient transit guarantee and entry and exit services. The policy will enable more foreign friends to travel and engage in sight-seeing in Chengdu, or conducting business activities and being engaged in cross-border business. Their 3-day stay in Chengdu will be pleasant and rewarding.
To attract more overseas tourists to Chengdu, tour routes (half-day tour, one-day tour, two-day tours and three-day tours) for visa-free tourists with distinctive Chengdu features will be launched. Management and guides at domestic tourism agencies receiving outbound tourist delegations will be enhanced and tourist personnel training will be strengthened to satisfy the multilingual demand of tourists from different countries and regions.
More convenient to have flight transfer in Chengdu:
Last year, Shuangliu International Airport, Chengdu had a passenger throughput of 31.59 million, ranking it fourth in China and first in Mid-West China. The number of outbound and inbound tourists was more than 1 million in the first half of 2013. A Chengdu-Doha direct flight will be opened on 3rd September, Chengdu-London direct flights begin on 22nd September and there will be a direct Chengdu-San Francisco service next year.
The 72-hour transit visa exemption policy will further increase the number and proportion of international transfer passengers at Shuangliu International Airport of Chengdu, which will have an agglomerative effect, promoting the integration of the international air routes network and realizing the extensive allocation of global aviation resources. In the future, Chengdu Municipality will coordinate civil aviation management departments to ensure they do a good job in guaranteeing connecting flights. Given the 45 countries now able to access the 72-hour visa exemption, airlines will be encouraged to increase the number of international flights to attract more international passengers to use Chengdu as a transit point in traveling around the world, to make the airport more open to the outside world and to make the flight network more convenient.
Chengdu will be more attractive in implementing international cooperation:
“We sent invitation letters to more than 300 foreign guests for the Fortune Global Forum this June. After 1st September, many of these foreign friends attending similar conferences in Chengdu will be free of visa formalities and their trips to Chengdu will be more convenient.” The spokesperson at the Chengdu Municipal Foreign Affairs Office says that the policy will help the relevant departments of Chengdu Municipality to integrate tourism, shopping, hotel services, catering and transport resources, and to provide safe, smooth, convenient, and pleasant services to international passengers in transit. This is conducive to improving the internationalization image of Chengdu.
In the future, Chengdu FAO will introduce details of the 72-hour transit visa exemption policy via various channels such as Chinese Embassies abroad, foreign consular institutions in Chengdu and airlines home and abroad.
At present, the Chengdu FAO has introduced policies related to the 72-hour transit visa exemption to persons-in-charge of the foreign consular institutions of France, Germany, Singapore and the Republic of Korea. All the consular institutions believe that the policy will further enhance exchanges and cooperation between their own countries and Chengdu and are ready to spread the news to their personnel and enterprises who are about to visit Chengdu.