New policy to create cosmopolitan city

Updated: 2014-05-15 14:31

(China Daily)

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Chengdu's 72-hour visa free policy will bring more business opportunities, said international companies and trade assoacitions in the southwestern metropolis.

Chengdu is the first city in western China and the fourth nationwide to adopt the policy following Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou.

"Of course the policy will facilitate trips of multinationals' overseas employees, especially technical experts and top management," said Gu Yi, Intel's public affairs director for west China.

The policy, which started last September, allows citizens from 51 countries in Asia, the Americas, Europe and Oceania to spend three days in Chengdu if they have valid visas and onward flight tickets.

"In fact Chengdu has served as the venue of several of our global meetings this year," said Gu.

A Chengdu native, she said the policy will make the "historical, comfortable" city more international.

New policy to create cosmopolitan city

A spokesman from Dell Inc said the visa-free policy "has an immediate and positive influence on the company's business development" in the city now that the IT giant has established a global hub of operations there.

A total of 252 Fortune 500 companies had a presence in the city by the end of 2013, according to Chengdu's investment promotion commission.

Multinational companies are encouraged to invite their overseas employees to make use of the policy.

The move will help make the city better known, said Xue Lian, a project manager of the American Chamber of Commerce in Southwest China.

More business people want to go to Chengdu as the policy makes traveling easier, said Xue in an earlier interview with China Daily.

Data from the Chengdu entry and exit administration showed that as of March 31, about 100 travelers on their way to other countries spent time in the region, in accordance with the policy. Most were from the United States, the United Kingdom and Germany.

The city has 70 international flight routes, with at least three more expected to open this year.

British Airways, which opened direct routes from London to Chengdu last September, increased the number of flights bound for the city to five a week from May 5.

New policy to create cosmopolitan city

Local authorities have come up with a range of services to make visits easier for foreigners making use of the policy.

A bilingual call center was set up and 20 training sessions were held by late March for workers in the hospitality industry.

The government said it could extend visits of people who want to stay longer than three days after they file an application.

Plans for more duty-free stores at the airport and in downtown Chengdu are also on the agenda.

Gu at Intel said the government was doing a good job but she called for more efforts to improve translation of traffic signs and billboards.

New policy to create cosmopolitan city

She said locals should be encouraged to speak Mandarin to improve the city's appeal as many speak Sichuan dialect in their daily life.

Li Zhiyong, deputy dean of the tourism institute at Sichuan University, agreed. Li said the government should improve English services and roll out more tourism products for international travelers.

The hotel industry in Chengdu has braced itself for an influx of overseas guests, with more and more international brands opening in the city.

One of the latest is the St Regis Chengdu, which is due to open in June. Its general manager Richard Deutl said his colleagues were coming up with short-stay packages for business and leisure travelers.

New policy to create cosmopolitan city
The financial district in Chengdu has gathered the interest of several domestic and international financial institutions.

New policy to create cosmopolitan city
The iconic Shangri-La Chengdu. More international hotel brands are expected to open in the city following the 72-hour visa-free policy. Photos provided to China Daily