No Visas Needed for Foreign Tourist Groups in Haikou

Members of tourist groups from 21 countries will not have to get a visa to visit south China's Hainan Province for less than 15 days.

The practice has won the approval of the Chinese Ministry of Public Security, according to sources from the provincial people's government.

The 21 countries are Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, the Republic of Korea, the Philippines, Indonesia, Germany, Britain, France, Austria, Italy, Russia, Switzerland, Sweden, Spain, the Netherlands, the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

Travel agencies in these countries, who have been approved by the China National Tourism Administration to do travel business in Hainan, will only be required to present names of the people who are part of the tourist groups they have organized to visit this southern Chinese island province, said the sources.

It is also required that each tourist group will have no less than five members. Foreign journalists will still have to get a visa.

The move is not applicable for residents from Hong Kong or Macao, who can travel in any part of the country with the necessary documents to prove their identity and required travel permits.

Compatriots from Taiwan can apply for travel permits in the Chinese mainland at Haikou, the provincial capital of Hainan or Sanya, a well-known tourist resort on the southern tip of Hainan Island, and will be allowed to leave the mainland with the travel permits at any port of exit and entry across the country.

Before this, foreigners from countries that have established diplomatic relations with China were allowed to get visas upon arrival at Haikou or Sanya for purposes of business, visiting relatives or tourism.

(Xinhua 01/04/2001)