Starting May 1, travelers from the United States headed to Hainan, China, will have visa-free access for 30 days, provided that they book their tour through travel agencies, the State Immigration Administration has announced.
The new policy covers group and individual tourists from 59 countries, including the United States as well as Russia, Britain, France and Germany. Previously, Hainan had offered a 15-day visa-free stay for group tourists, a policy that had been in place for 21 countries since 2000 and for another five countries since 2010.
In a written statement State Immigration Administration Vice Head Qu Yunhai said that the new policy aims to attract more international tourists. It is also part of an effort to build Hainan into “a free trade port with Chinese characteristics,” which is part of guidelines regarding the reform and opening up of the province released by central authorities on Saturday.
More direct flights are planned to countries with visa-free access. Hainan already has 57 international flights to countries including Germany, Malaysia and Thailand, with plans for at least 16 new overseas routes this year. It aims to have at least 100 overseas routes by 2020.
The island has become a famous tropical resort for overseas tourists in recent years, with the number of overseas tourists exceeding 1.1 million in 2017, up nearly 50 percent year on year.
Last year, Hainan received nearly 320,000 tourists from the 26 countries with visa-free access, 3.5 times the number recorded in 2016. Tourists from Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, the Republic of Korea (ROK) and Russia accounted for more than 90 percent of the total.