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Visas waived for Beijing transit travelers
Travelers from 45 countries exempted from visas starting in 2013 to boost the capital's tourist industry
Transit tourists from 45 countries will be able to visit Beijing for up to 72 hours without a visa under new regulations starting January 1, 2013.
Government officials announced this week that visas will be waived for transit passengers who can provide a confirmed air ticket or other travel documents detailing a third destination and who will depart the Chinese capital within three days.
This means travelers from selected countries (see below) who have onward journeys don't have to apply for a visa if they want to stay in Beijing, e.g., a Hong Kong to Beijing to San Francisco passenger. But foreign nationals traveling on a single return flight (e.g., Hong Kong to Beijing to Hong Kong) will need to get a visa before their departure.
Officials hope the new policy will boost the capital's tourism industry.
Beijing is less attractive for inbound visitors than Hong Kong, which has a more relaxed visa policy, according to Wang Yue, deputy director of the Beijing Municipal Commission of Tourism Development.
“It is expected 1.28 million passengers will transit through Beijing Capital International Airport in 2015 and 640,000 of them will visit the capital under the new policy,” Wang said at a press conference on Wednesday (link in Chinese).
Visitors under the scheme will not be allowed to travel outside the capital during the 72 hours.
The 45 visa-free countries are:
Argentina, Austria, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Brunei, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Japan, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, Russia, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States.
More on CNN: Insider Guide: What to do in Beijing