Luigi Gambardella, president of ChinaEU, a business-led international digital association in Brussels, recently lauded China’s new visa-free policy.
China has decided to implement a unilateral visa-free policy for ordinary passport holders from France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and Malaysia on a trial basis, according to a statement published on the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s social media account.
From December 1, 2023, to November 30, 2024, holders of ordinary passports from the six countries may enter China visa-free for business, tourism, visiting relatives and friends and transit for no more than 15 days, the online statement said.
Gambardella said the new visa-free policy will further facilitate travel and strengthen cultural exchanges and economic ties.
According to Trip.com, visits to its “China Travel Guide” page have surged by over 30 percent since the policy’s announcement. In the first 10 months of 2023, long-haul inbound travel, particularly from Europe, shows signs of recovery, surpassing pre-pandemic levels.
Noting that tourism promotes cultural exchanges and enhances better understanding between nations, Gambardella, in an interview with Xinhua, highlighted the transformative power of firsthand experiences and said many people abandon the stereotypical image of China after their first visit.
Gambardella praised China’s progress since his first visit to the country in 2014, saying that China is now better equipped to receive guests from all over the world.
“You don’t need to worry about currency exchange during your time in China, as Alipay and WeChat Pay now accept international bank cards,” he said.
In the interview, Gambardella expressed hope for the expansion of the visa-free program to more Schengen countries and for more Chinese to visit Europe and help boost the local tourism industry while further promoting bilateral exchanges.
Given the size and economic development of China, attracting Chinese tourists and business travelers would have a substantial positive impact on local economies in Europe, Gambardella said.
He said this approach could also contribute to fostering cooperation and understanding between Europe and China.