China's Visa-Free Entry Extended to Four More European Nations

Seeking to revitalise its tourism industry after pandemic restrictions, China has expanded visa-free access for citizens of four more European countries. This move follows the introduction of similar policies for seven European nations and Malaysia in late 2023 and early 2024.

Key Points

  • Visa-free entry for 15 days: Citizens of Austria, Belgium, Hungary, and Luxembourg can now visit China visa-free for up to 15 days, joining France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, and Switzerland. (This is a pilot program lasting one year.)
  • Boosting tourism and foreign exchange: The policy aims to attract more European tourists and business travellers, aiding China's economic recovery.
  • Pre-pandemic levels yet to be reached: Strict COVID-19 measures significantly impacted international travel to China. While restrictions eased in early 2023, tourist numbers haven't returned to pre-pandemic levels. (2023 figures show a significant drop compared to 2019.)
  • Europeans show strong interest: Despite the gap, data from indicates a surge in European tourist bookings for China in 2023, with a nearly 7-fold increase compared to 2022.
  • Popular destinations and beyond: Shanghai remains the top draw for Europeans, followed by Beijing, Guangzhou, and Shenzhen. Emerging destinations like Sanya (Hainan Island) and Chengdu (Sichuan province) are gaining traction.
  • Additional efforts to attract tourists: China is collaborating with to promote cultural and historical attractions. Investments in tourism infrastructure - technology, travel guides, and e-payment systems - are also underway.

China is actively courting European tourists with visa-free entry and various initiatives. This strategy aims to revitalise its tourism sector and contribute to economic growth.


Which European countries can now visit China visa-free?

Citizens of Austria, Belgium, Hungary, and Luxembourg can visit China visa-free for up to 15 days (joining France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, and Switzerland).

How long is the visa-free stay?

The visa-free entry is valid for 15 days, but it's a pilot program running for one year (as of March 2024).

Why is China offering visa-free entry?

China aims to revive its tourism industry after the pandemic by attracting more European tourists and business travellers.

Have tourist numbers recovered in China?

No, tourist numbers haven't reached pre-pandemic levels yet. Strict COVID-19 measures discouraged travel, though there's a recent surge in European bookings.

What are some popular tourist destinations in China?

Shanghai remains the top choice, followed by Beijing, Guangzhou, and Shenzhen. Sanya (Hainan Island) and Chengdu (Sichuan) are emerging as new hotspots.

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