Foreign tourists play beach volleyball in Sanya, South China’s Hainan Province. Photo: VCG   

South China’s Hainan Province will further ease its visa and residence policies to encourage international exchanges through tourism, education and business after the island granted 30-day visa-free access for tourists from 59 countries, a policy that has brought 18.8 percent more tourists and 16.7 percent more revenue. 

Foreigners eligible for visa-free access into Hainan will be able to register for travel on their own or through an invitation from a local business, Qu Yunhai, deputy director of the State Immigration Administration, announced at the press conference by the Ministry of Public Security on Wednesday. 

China has offered greater visa-free access to Hainan to tourists from 59 countries as of May 1, 2018, and they can visit Hainan visa-free and stay there for up to 30 days on condition that they register their tour through travel agencies.

Qu said the policy will be further eased to include trips by foreigners traveling for trade, business, visiting relatives, medical care, conferences and sports purpose. But he did not specify when the new policy would be implemented. 

Tourists visiting on a cruise can stay for 15 days without a visa while yachts traveling between assigned ports can skip the exit-entry procedures, which will increase the passing efficiency, Qu also said.   

Foreigners who work in Hainan are granted residence permits valid for the duration of their work contracts, said Jia Tongbin, an official with the State Immigration Administration department in charge of managing foreigners. 

International students with a Master’s degree and above can apply for a two-year residence permit if they start a business in the province, Jia said.  

Foreign students from overseas colleges can work as an intern in Hainan after applying for visas, which requires an invitation from the working place and recommendation from their schools, Jia added. 

Easing visa and residence policies will bring more tourists and talents to Hainan, boosting its economy and promoting its international image, Qu said. 

Around 447,000 foreign tourists traveled to Hainan visa-free by the end of June since the 30-day visa-free access policy launched in May 2018, up 18.8 percent year-on-year, generating $767 million tourist revenues, an increase of 16.7 percent, according to data released at a press conference by the Ministry of Public Security on Wednesday.