China opens ports to international cruise tourists with 15-day Visa-Free entry

   May 16, 2024 ,   Cruise Industry

Travelers entering China via international cruises can now stay in select provinces for up to 15 days without a visa, the government announced Wednesday, May 15, as part of Beijing's efforts to enhance its cruise and tourism sectors.

According to a statement from China’s National Immigration Administration (CNI), the regulations stipulate that foreigners must enter through one of 13 designated coastal cruise ports. Visitors are required to travel as part of a tour group of at least two people, organized by a Chinese travel agency, and must depart the country on the same cruise. These tour groups are permitted to visit Beijing and other coastal provinces.

CNI emphasized that the full implementation of the visa-free entry policy for foreign tourists taking cruises is an important pillar to accelerate the development of China’s cruise economy, and an important measure to promote China’s institutional opening.

China's cruise industry has seen significant advancements this year, highlighted by the maiden voyage of the country's first domestically-built cruise liner, the Adora Magic City, on January 1st. Additionally, 7 seaports have been added as eligible entry points under China's existing visa-free transit policy, expanding to 38 total.

The visa-free transit policy allows citizens from certain countries to stay in China without a visa for up to 144 hours while transiting to another destination. In November, Norway was included in the list of countries eligible for visa-free transit, bringing the total number to 54.

The new visa-free travel policy underscores China’s commitment to “opening up to the world” and aims to facilitate greater exchange between China and other nations, according to CNI.

China has been actively seeking to attract tourists since reopening its borders last year and restoring international flight routes, following 3 years of stringent COVID restrictions.

In December, China introduced a temporary visa exemption for up to 15 days for citizens of France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, and Malaysia. Additionally, Beijing enacted a mutual visa exemption agreement with Singapore in February, valid until November this year.