China Adopts Visa-Free Policy for Hainan Island

China has adopted a visa-free policy for travelers from 59 countries visiting Hainan Island  as long as they book their trips through travel agencies. Visitors to the Southern Chinese province will be able to remain in the tropical island for up to 30 days.

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A colourful sunset lights the skies over a beach on Wuzhixhou Island in Hainan, China. Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

China Travel News

Travelers from Australia, Britain, Canada, the Philippines, Singapore, the United States, and 52 other countries are now able to make visits of up to 30 days to Hainan Island.

Travelers from these countries, however, will only be allowed visa-free entry if their trips are booked through accredited travel agencies.

The new policy has not been without a few hiccoughs. There have been reports that some travelers arriving in Hainan have been held up for lengthy periods upon arrival at the island’s two international airports.

Free Trade Port

The relaxation of visa requirements is part of a larger plan to bolster Hainan’s status as a free trade port.

In addition to promoting tourism, the island will also focus on developing other modern service industries such the internet, health care, finance, and conferences and exhibitions.

Duty-free shopping will be expanded beyond the resort city of Sanya in the south to the whole island. Horse-racing and casino gambling might also be introduced.

The authorities in Hainan will be urged to attract more foreign talent and technology experts by making it easier for people from other countries to find work in Hainan and become permanent residents.

Hainan was made a special economic zone in 1988, but its development has lagged far behind the other four SEZs: Shantou, Shenzhen, Xiamen, and Zhuhai.

Hainan attracted only 1.4% of China’s total foreign investment from 2012 to 2017.

Hainan 101

A quick guide to Hainan Island follows …

Geography

Located in Southeastern China, Hainan is the country’s smallest province and largest island.

With an land mass of 33,920 square kilometres (12,700 square miles), Hainan province comprises Hainan Island and about 200 smaller islands.

Hainan has 10 major cities. Located in the far north of the island, Haikou is the provincial capital and commercial hub. Located in the far south, Sanya is an important tourist destination.

Tourism

The relaxed visa policy is expected to be a boon to the Hainan’s travel, tourism, and hotel industries.

The policy went into effect on 1 May 2018, following on a previous policy launched in 2010 allowing travelers from a smaller number of countries to visit the island without visas for up to 15 days.

The new visa-free policy is expected to double the number of inbound foreign tourist arrivals to 2 million arrivals per year.

To put this figure in contest, Bali – which is one-sixth the size of Hainan – welcomed more than 5 million foreign visitors in 2017.

Countries in Africa and the Indian subcontinent were conspicuous in their absence from the list.

The following three countries in Southeast Asia were also excluded: Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam.

According to the World Travel and Tourism Council, Hainan is expected to register 12.6% average annual growth in tourism expenditure between 2011 and 2021.

Accommodation

Thanks to its sandy beaches, beautiful scenery, and tropical climate, Hainan has the highest concentration of five-star hotels in China.

Most of the resort hotels are located along the island’s southern coast, especially in and around the city of Sanya.

Recreation

Yachting and golf are among the most popular recreational activities in Hainan, and the government has taken steps to encourage the development of both sectors.

Foreign yachts are allowed to dock in the province for up to 183 days a year, and for up to 30 days per stay.

Golfers from such neighboring countries as Australia, Japan, and South Korea are attracted to the growing number of golf courses on the island.

With 22 golf courses, Mission Hills Haikou is one of the largest golf complexes in the world. In addition to golf courses, the complex has shopping and five-star hotels.

Climate

Northern Hainan has a subtropical climate, with humid summers, when highs can rise above 35 degrees Celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit). The rest of the island has a tropical monsoon climate.

From January to February, however, the island is frequently blanketed in fog. This is especially true along the coast and in the northern part of the island.

Hainan enjoys much better air quality than most other parts of China because of the lack of heavy industry.

Transport

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Hainan Airlines Boeing 737. Photo Credit: byeangel

Hainan has two international airports: Haikou Meilan International Airport in the north and Sanya Phoenix International Airport in the south.

Up until now, the number of international flights has been limited to a few cities in Australia, India, Japan, Korea, Mongolia, Russia, and Ukraine.

Shortly following news of the relaxed visa policy, Hainan Airlines, the province’s flag carrier, announced plans to launch more than 40 new international routes over the next five years, the South China Morning Post reports

Under the scheme, new routes will be introduced in three phases.

Haikou Airport will serve as a gateway Japan, Korea, and Southeast Asia, with connections to the United States and Europe.

Sanya Airport will serve as a gateway to Southeast Asia.

Hainan Airlines already operates a number of long-distance flights to Europe and North America from Beijing, Shanghai, and Changsha.

The airline does not, however, fly non-stop from either Haikou or Sanya to any long-strange travel destinations.

Countries Eligible for Visa-Free Entry to Hainan

Passports holders from the following countries are eligible to visit Hainan for up 30 days provided their trips are booked through accredited travel agents.

  • Albania
  • Argentina
  • Australia
  • Austria
  • Belarus
  • Belgium
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Brazil
  • Brunei
  • Bulgaria
  • Canada
  • Chile
  • Croatia
  • Cyprus
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Hungary
  • Iceland
  • Indonesia
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • Kazakhstan
  • Latvia
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Macedonia
  • Malaysia
  • Malta
  • Mexico
  • Monaco
  • Montenegro
  • Netherlands
  • New Zealand
  • Norway
  • Philippines
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Qatar
  • Romania
  • Russia
  • Serbia
  • Singapore
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • South Korea
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • Thailand
  • United Arab Emirates
  • Ukraine
  • United Kingdom
  • United States

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China Adopts Visa-Free Policy for Hainan Island.

 

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