Shenyang to offer 72-hour visas

By Liu Ce in Shenyang and Zhang Xiaomin in Dalian, Liaoning province ( China Daily ) Updated: 2013-11-26 07:21:38

Shenyang, the capital of Liaoning province, has received permission to launch 72-hour visa-free stays for foreign travelers, local authorities said on Monday.

The move makes Shenyang the seventh city in China with such a policy or with plans to launch one, following Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chengdu, Chongqing and Dalian.

The policy is expected to take effect in January or February. Travelers from 45 countries can take advantage of the policy if they hold third-country visas and have tickets to leave for a third country or region within 72 hours, the Shenyang Frontier Inspection Station said.

Zhao Yu, the station's chief of staff, said that about 200,000 foreign travelers visited Shenyang last year through Shenyang Taoxian International Airport.

"It's more convenient for foreign travelers. They will have another choice for their tour. It will also increase our work. We will optimize our service processes to satisfy the travelers," Zhao said.

The station will increase its staff and set aside special procedures and waiting zones for the travelers.

The plan will boost local tourism, said Chen Rijie, an official with the Shenyang Tourism Bureau.

More than 750,000 foreign tourists visited Shenyang last year, up 18 percent year-on-year. "The figure is likely to increase after the policy takes effect," Chen said.

His estimate is backed by the Shenyang Imperial Palace.

Built in 1625, the palace, also called Mukden Palace, was the residence of Nurhaci and his son, Hong Taiji, founders of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). Shenyang was later used as an accompanying capital after the dynasty moved its capital to Beijing in 1644. It is the main destination of tourists who visit the city.

Han Chunyan, head of the palace's market department, said that about 250,000 for-eign tourists visit the palace a year. "I'm sure there will be an increase next year due to the 72-hour visa-free policy," she said.

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(China Daily 11/26/2013 page4)

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