Beijing-Urumqi-Tacheng. December 25. KAZINFORM - Starting this year, tourists from 45 countries need no visa for a stay of 3 days (72 hours) in China's largest cities, including Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou. Kazakhstanis haven't been entered on the list so far.
This advantage has been granted to those countries, whose citizens were most frequent visitors of China between 2008 and 2012.
However, last July, the Chinese town of Tacheng, the administrative seat of Tacheng Prefecture, in northern Ili Kazakh Autonomous Prefecture, Xinjiang, availed Kazakh nationals of visiting Tacheng visa-free for 72 hours.
Tacheng with its 170 000 population is located 60 km of East-Kazakhstan's checkpoint Bakhty, which is 600 km away from the region's capital - Ust-Kamenogorsk. Kazakh citizens visiting Tacheng need only to register with the Chinese migration service on the first day of their stay, but they are prohibited from leaving the town and can return to Kazakhstan only through the Chinese border entry point of Pokitu.
The Chinese foreign office explains that the 3-day visa-free regime was introduced to promote communication of the two states' population living along the Chinese-Kazakhstan border and trans-border trade.
Kazakh tourists, mainly from the near-border Urdzhar district and the towns of Ayagoz and Semey of the East-Kazakhstan region visit China to buy consumer goods without mark-ups, visit relatives residing in Xinjiang and get medical services.
The Chinese checkpoint registers the growing number of Kazakh tourists every day, in all, over the year, more than 10 000 Kazakh tourists have visited Tacheng and the trade turnover made $6.5 million.
Tacheng authorities, in their turn, hope that Kazakhstan will introduce a 3-day visa-free stay for Chinese nationals at Lake Alakol in East Kazakhstan. Attracting tourists from China will help develop the tourism cluster in the region given that over 400 000 inside tourists visit Tacheng annually and spend there at least 3 days and $350 per person a day.
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