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A destination to remember

By Yang Feiyue | China Daily | Updated: 2024-05-14 08:30
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Veronique Gallo, a French tourist, uses her phone to scan a QR code to buy tickets to enter the Summer Palace in Beijing on Friday. [Photo by Yang Feiyue/China Daily]

Enhanced services and visa policies see an increasing number of international tourists, Yang Feiyue reports.

Veronique Gallo took out her phone and scanned a QR code in front of the entrance of the Summer Palace last Friday.

The French tourist from Grasse kicked off her three-week trip to China with two of her friends in the capital city.

She adroitly filled in the names and passport numbers of her friends on her WeChat account before hitting the payment button.

The whole process took less than two minutes to get an access code for all three to enter the imperial park, where they were impressed by the vast lake, large islands, traditional halls and pavilions studding the imperial park.

"We are here to explore the changes to the city," says Gallo, who used to work for a French company in Beijing between 2006 and 2010.

"The streets are cleaner and wider, but people are still very friendly," she adds.

Gallo says she was encouraged to visit by the positive signals from a series of favorable tourism policies that have been rolled out by the Chinese government.

In November, visa-free policies were implemented for passport holders from France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and Malaysia.

In March, China announced it would grant visa-free entry on a trial basis to visitors from Switzerland, Ireland, Hungary, Austria, Belgium and Luxembourg.

According to the Foreign Ministry, from March 14 to Nov 30, passport holders from these six countries would be able to enter China without a visa for up to 15 days for business, tourism, family visits and transit purposes.

Right after the May Day holiday, the government decided to extend the visa-free policy for short-term visits for the 12 above-mentioned countries until the end of 2025.

"It's clear that we are being welcomed to visit," Gallo says.

After Beijing, she and her friends will go on to explore Zhangjiajie in Hunan province, Yangshuo county in Guilin in the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, and Shanghai.

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