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China Mainland Visa Restrictions Loosened
Update: 10/27/2008 11:31:00 AM Source: China Travel


VISA restrictions on foreigners entering the mainland via Hong Kong as a security control during the Beijing Olympics have been eased, Shenzhen and Hong Kong officials said Friday.

"The popular '144-hour' visa for groups of foreign tourists traveling into Guangdong from Hong Kong by land, which was canceled during the Olympics, resumed Oct. 16," Yi Nengquan, vice chief of the Shenzhen Municipal Tourism Bureau, said in an exclusive interview with the Shenzhen Daily on Friday.

But the minimum number of group members has been adjusted to five rather than the previous three, Yi said. He said that although there was no immediate feedback from travel agencies, the bureau had expected a significant increase in the number of foreigners traveling to the mainland after the easing of restrictions.

The Office of the Commissioner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Hong Kong, the authority that issues mainland visas in Hong Kong, also confirmed the long-awaited move.

"More foreigners have been issued multi-entry visas which were available to few foreigners during the Olympics. In addition, foreigners from some countries who could not get a visa in Hong Kong during the Olympics can now get a 15-day visa, such as Filipinos," an official with the office who refused to give her name told the Shenzhen Daily on Thursday.

But she refused to elaborate on detailed changes to the visa curbs. Despite the changes, she suggested that foreigners apply for a visa in their home countries before they go to Hong Kong. "Because we are busy dealing with mounting visa applications at present."

Foreigners in Shenzhen, who had been distressed by the visa curbs for months, all welcomed the move.

Indian Subhash Agarwal said it was the best news for foreign businessmen in Shenzhen. "Now I can invite my business partners and my sister here. It will make life easier and push up China's economy, because more foreigners can come to invest in the city," Agarwal told the Daily on Friday.

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