China Bolsters Tourism Efforts: Eases Visa Rules and Lifts COVID-19 Testing Requirements


Key Takeaways

  • Indian travelers are exempt from biometric data requirements for select visas until Dec 31, 2023.
  • Exemption benefits younger and older applicants; standard prerequisites and costs are unchanged.
  • Scrapping pre-entry COVID-19 testing for foreign travelers from Aug 30, 2023.
  • Revive inbound tourism, and normalize travel protocols.
  • Emphasizes safety precautions while focusing on tourism revival and international relations.

In a move that could profoundly enhance travel between India and China, the Chinese Embassy in India has announced interim changes to its visa regulations effective until December 31, 2023. 

According to a Times of India post, the notification shows these adjustments:

  • Indian travelers applying for visas for tourism, business, transit, or short-term family visits will not be mandated to provide biometric data.
  • Primarily benefiting those below 14 and above 70, the rule change skips the fingerprinting procedure, streamlining the visa application process.
  • All Indian travelers are advised to contact the Chinese Visa Application Service Centre in New Delhi for up-to-date information.
  • Although the visa process has been made more accessible, the standard application prerequisites, including passport requirements and documentation, remain in place.
  • Visa costs continue to range from INR 3,800 to INR 7,800, based on the type and duration of the visa.
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China Repeals Mandatory Pre-Entry COVID-19 Testing

According to a China Briefing report, to further boost its tourism sector and normalize travel protocols, China has rescinded all pre-entry COVID-19 testing for incoming travelers, effective August 30, 2023.


  • Foreign travelers must no longer undergo COVID-19 nucleic acid or antigen tests.
  • This landmark decision is expected to enhance inbound tourism and restore normalcy to China’s travel industry.

Backdrop: Challenges in China’s Travel Sector

The report noted that while domestic destinations like Beijing’s Forbidden City witnessed high local footfall in 2023, international tourists remained a rarity.

Despite initiatives like expanding international flights, foreign tourism still needed to regain its pre-pandemic momentum. Reasons cited for this include:

  • Persistent safety apprehensions deterred international travelers.
  • An April survey highlighted various concerns, ranging from health risks to visa complications, influencing 58% of potential Chinese travelers to reconsider international trips in 2023.

However, with China’s economy recovering, domestic travel increased significantly. 

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A projected RMB5 trillion (US$700 billion) in travel-associated revenue was expected, and destinations beyond metropolises grew in popularity.

Strategic Steps Towards Tourism Revival

China decided to do away with pre-entry testing after they restarted visa applications, including visa-free policies, earlier in March 2023. This aims to spark interest in China as a prime travel destination.

COVID-19 Precautions for Travelers in China

The report noted that although travel restrictions are easing:

  1. Tourists should follow health guidelines such as hand hygiene, optional mask usage in public, and avoiding crowded areas.
  2. Certain settings, like nursing homes and medical institutions, still mandate mask-wearing.
  3. For those who test positive for COVID-19, mask usage remains obligatory.

This dual strategy, relaxing visa norms for Indian travelers while eliminating pre-entry testing requirements, underscores China’s commitment to reenergizing its travel industry and deepening international relations while focusing on health and safety.

 As the world watches, these initiatives could set a new precedent in post-pandemic travel.

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What We Think

These recent adjustments in visa regulations between India and China, coupled with China’s decision to rescind pre-entry COVID-19 testing for travelers, mark significant steps toward reviving the travel sector.

While the exemption from biometric data simplifies visa applications, the maintenance of standard prerequisites ensures a structured process. This move aligns with China’s aim to rejuvenate its tourism industry, vital for economic recovery post-pandemic.

With these strategic initiatives, China emphasizes safety precautions while focusing on tourism revival and fostering international relations. This marks a potential turning point in post-pandemic travel norms, showcasing a balanced approach between facilitating travel and prioritizing health and safety.


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