Kazakhstan – China Visa-Free Travel Comes into Effect, Intends to Boost Tourism Ties

ASTANA — The Kazakh Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that the agreement on mutual exemption from visa requirements between Kazakhstan and the People’s Republic of China officially took effect on Nov. 10, the ministry’s press service reported.

Serzhanuly expressed optimism that the increase in tourists this year would likely lead to a significant rise in profits. Photo credit: Kazakh Tourism.

According to the ministry’s statement, under Article 1 of the agreement, citizens of both countries are now exempt from visa requirements for private affairs, tourism, medical treatment, international transport, transit, and business purposes. 

“The visa-free stay for citizens is capped at 30 calendar days from the moment of crossing the state border with a cumulative total of 90 calendar days within 180 days,” reads the statement.

The visa-free arrangement also does not grant permission for work, study, or missionary work. For stays exceeding 30 days, individuals must obtain an entry visa of the appropriate category in advance. The agreement does not extend to visits to China’s administrative regions – Hong Kong and Macau. While citizens of Kazakhstan can visit Hong Kong without a visa for up to 14 days, they will need a visa to travel to Macau.

Managing Director of Kazakh Tourism national company Daniel Serzhanuly emphasized the significance of China as a priority tourism market for Kazakhstan. In 2019, the country welcomed nearly 90,000 registered tourists from China. Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, the number is expected to surpass pre-pandemic levels by the end of this year.

Serzhanuly pointed out that five airlines currently operate about 20 weekly flights connecting various cities in Kazakhstan to six destinations in China. Flights from Beijing to Astana and Almaty, as well as to Urumqi and Xi’an, are among the most frequent. 

Comparing tourism figures from this year to the previous, Serzhanuly highlighted a doubling number of Chinese tourists visiting Kazakhstan. In 2022, nearly 45,000 Chinese tourists stayed in Kazakh hotels, generating a total revenue of approximately $16 million—twice the amount recorded in 2021.

Commenting on the impact of the visa-free regime between Kazakhstan and China on tourism in Kazakhstan, Serzhanuly expressed optimism, stating that the increase in tourists this year would likely lead to a significant rise in profits.

“The e-guest system of the Kazakh Tourism company calculates the flow of foreign tourists. According to this system, more than a million tourists have been registered so far, with Chinese tourists making it to the top three countries visiting Kazakhstan. In most cases, Chinese tourists visit places in Almaty and its vicinity,” he said.

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