Singapore and China have agreed to a 30-day mutual visa-free entry system for their citizens, with the arrangement set to begin on February 9, the eve of Chinese New Year. Government representatives from both sides signed the agreement on Thursday.
In mainland China, the holiday period runs from February 10 to February 17.
Under the agreement, Singaporeans and Chinese citizens holding ordinary passports can enter China or Singapore without a visa for no more than 30 days if they are travelling for business, sightseeing, visiting friends and family, or other private affairs.
The reciprocal visa exemption arrangement had been announced in early December. At the time, the Singapore Foreign Ministry said the arrangement was expected to begin “in early 2024”.
China resumed last year a 15-day visa-free entry scheme for citizens of Singapore, more than three years after suspending it because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Currently, Chinese citizens must apply for a visa to enter Singapore.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin was quoted by mainland media outlets as saying the implementation of the visa-free scheme ahead of the Chinese New Year holiday was a “new year’s gift” to the people of both countries.
Singapore is home to a casino resort duopoly: Resorts World Sentosa, operated by a unit of Genting Singapore Ltd; and Marina Bay Sands, run by a unit of Las Vegas Sands Corp.
More than 3.5 million Chinese tourists visited Singapore in 2019, but post-pandemic arrivals have not rebounded to such levels. In the first 11 months of 2023, the city-state received 1.23 million visitors from mainland China, according to official figures.
Maybank Research Pte Ltd said in a recent note that tourism recovery in Southeast Asia is likely to be fastest this year in the casino jurisdictions of Malaysia and Singapore, as well as in Thailand. But the institution said the contribution from mainland China tourists is likely to continue to lag.
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