A 15-day visa-free policy to allow foreign tourist groups on cruises to enter the Port of Shanghai and visit certain regions and cities will take effect on Oct 1, according to the Shanghai General Station of Immigration Inspection.
Foreign tourist groups－which must have at least two members－on tours arranged by registered Chinese tourism agencies, will be able to enter Shanghai without a visa and travel in the coastal provinces and to Beijing for up to 15 days.
Local travel agencies must submit the names of members of foreign tourist groups before their arrival and obtain approval for entry from the Shanghai General Station of Immigration Inspection when their cruise ship reaches the port.
The new policy follows the implementation in January of the country's first cross-region visa-free transit policy, which enables foreign visitors from 51 countries to pass through the Yangtze River Delta region to a third destination without a visa for up to 144 hours.
"The visa-free policy is expected to attract more foreign tourists on cruises to Shanghai and other places, boosting the development of Shanghai's cruise tourism industry," said a senior officer at the Shanghai General Station of Immigration Inspection.
He added that the policy will also inspire local travel agencies to design more routes in the region for foreign cruise travelers, promoting the growth of the catering, hospitality, transportation and retail sectors.
The Port of Shanghai is expected to become one of the largest cruise ports in the Asia Pacific region. More than 1.62 million visitors entered and exited the port last year, a year-on-year growth of 35.5 percent. However, only 4.3 percent, or 69,000, of them were foreign tourists, close to the same as in 2014.
The port is to become the home port of about 15 cruises, with a total of 1.5 million to 2 million visitors entering the port each year by 2020, according to the city's 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-20).