China today announced a 72-hour visa free stay in Beijing for travelers from 42 countries but India, Pakistan and the rest of South Asian nations were conspicuously missing from the list.
Beijing will start a 72-hour visa-free stay policy for citizens of 45 countries from January 1 next year in a bid to increase the inflow of tourists to the Chinese capital, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
Tourists holding third country visas and plane tickets can apply for a transit without visa (TWOV) in the capital city at Beijing Capital International Airport. The list mostly includes US, European countries as well as Japan and Russia. All most all of China's neighbours in South Asia, including India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Sri Lanka did not figure in the list.
The 45 countries were listed in accordance with the numbers of inbound overnight visitors in Beijing from 2009 to 2011, the Xinhua report said.
"The policy may enhance the status of Beijing Capital International Airport as an international air hub, said Gao Lijia," a general deputy manager with the airport. The airport has seen about 7.6 million inbound and outbound foreign passengers during the first nine months in 2012 and 521,600 out of them are transit passengers, Gao said.
He predicted that the policy will bring 600,000 to 800,000 transit visitors to China in 2013. To help with the transit visitors, the airport will improve service facilities in the airport including special visa-free channels, said Li Chunfang, manager with the planning and development department of the airport.
"We will set up a special service zone for transit visitors in our terminals, offering drinking water and reading materials. Moreover, services including foreign currency exchange, mobile phone rental service, and left-luggage office will be provided for the convenience of tourists," he said.
Foreign visitors are not permitted to leave Beijing to other Chinese cities during the 72 hours, and have to depart from Beijing. Visitors have to register at a police station with their visas within 24 hours of their arrival, according to the government.
The 72 hours will be calculated starting from the moment visitors get their transit stay permits, said Gao Dahua, deputy director of the exit and entry administrative corps of Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau. Beijing Capital International Airport is the only entry-exit port applicable for the policy, Gao stressed.