Singapore's visa-free entry policy boosts tourism

Updated: Dec 18, 2023 By Cheng Si Print
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It's heartening to see Singapore will implement a reciprocal visa-free policy for Chinese travelers in the near future, said tourism industry insiders and operators who believe the move will bring mutual benefits to the development of tourism in the two countries.

At a high-level meeting in Tianjin earlier this month, China and Singapore said that a mutual visa-free policy for up to 30 days will be carried out, though details were not revealed yet, reported Lianhe Zaobao, a Chinese-language newspaper in Singapore.

On July 26, China announced the resumption of unilateral visa-free entry to people from Singapore holding ordinary passports, who are allowed to stay for up to 15 days for business, sightseeing, family visits and transit. The policy was suspended in 2020 due to COVID-19.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs' spokesman Wang Wenbin said at a recent news conference that stronger communication between China and Singapore serves the fundamental interests of people from both countries and the policy will be a great benefit to the people. He said that the departments responsible for the work are in close communication over the details, and are looking forward to the implementation of the policy.

Online travel agency Group said that as of 1 pm on Dec 7 — one hour after the news was revealed — searches for flights and hotels in Singapore surged by 90 percent and 50 percent respectively on its platform.

Fan Dongxiao, who in charge of short-distance outbound tours at travel portal Tuniu, said that Singapore is popular among Chinese travelers due to its safer environment and richer tourism resources among countries and regions in Southeast Asia.

"We've seen increasing bookings to Singapore this year, especially in the summer holiday and National Day holiday. It's a good popular choice for family trips and those favoring group tours.

"Singapore's visa policy was not that friendly to unmarried single women who may face a higher possibility of being rejected. I think the future implementation of a visa-free policy will bring great benefits to Chinese people," she added. "Singapore has more friendly language services to Chinese people, and its good safety, transportation, education and technology fit Chinese travelers' demands for family and educational trips."

Xiao Peng, an analyst from travel portal Qunar, said that Malaysia announced a visa-free policy for Chinese people holding ordinary passports for up to 30 days from Dec 1, and with the future implementation of Singapore's visa-free policy, Chinese travelers can lengthen their single outbound trip from three days to five or six days to visit the two countries.

He added that the two destinations will be top choices for Chinese people to spend their Spring Festival holiday — which falls around mid-February — because of their warmer climates.

China has long been one of the main sources of travelers to Singapore. Figures from the Singapore Tourism Board show that the country received about 19.1 million international travelers in 2019, with about 3.63 million from China.

According to the China Tourism Academy, overseas destinations in the eastern and southeastern parts of Asia have received the most Chinese travelers in first half of the year, among which Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia remain the top choices.

"We are confident that the reciprocal visa exemption policy will have a positive impact on the tourism industry in both countries. Tourist-friendly policies such as this will definitely spur international travel as they remove a sticking point in the travel planning process, and we look forward to the start of visa-free travel between Singapore and China in the new year," said Trip com Group.

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