China will ease visa restrictions for people coming from the United States, the country's latest effort to attract foreign travelers since reopening its borders earlier this year.
Beginning Jan. 1, U.S. tourists will not be required to submit round-trip air tickets, proof of hotel reservations, itineraries or invitations to China, according to a notice posted online Friday by the Chinese Embassy in Washington.
The notice said the simplified application process is intended to "further facilitate people-to-people exchanges between China and the United States."
The move comes as China has struggled to rejuvenate its tourism sector after three years of strict pandemic measures, which included mandatory quarantine for all arrivals. Although those restrictions were lifted earlier this year, the return of international travelers has been slow.
According to immigration data, in the first half of this year, China recorded 8.4 million entries and exits by foreigners, down from 977 million during 2019, the last year before the pandemic.
China is making another effort to promote tourism announced Last month it would allow citizens of France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and Malaysia visa-free entry for up to 15 days.
The one-year testing program signaled China's "high-level openness to the outside world," Foreign Ministry spokesman Mao Ning said at a daily briefing.
But China's efforts to lure American tourists may face other headwinds. International flights between the two countries, set by a bilateral agreement, remain well below pandemic levels, although they have gradually increased in recent months.
Over the summer, amid deteriorating relations between Beijing and Washington, the US recommended Americans Reconsider traveling to China Citing the risk of wrongful detention and exit bans.
"The Government of the People's Republic of China (PRC) arbitrarily enforces local laws, including issuing exit bans on U.S. citizens and nationals of other countries, without fair and transparent process under the law," the advisory said.
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