Papua New Guinea (PNG) has relaxed visa requirements for some Chinese visitors, including government officials and tourists travelling in groups, effective immediately, officials told Xinhua on Thursday.
Those who fit the requirements will now be able to obtain a visa on arrival in PNG, however the new measures do not yet apply to individual Chinese tourists.
According to PNG media, Chief Migration Officer Solomon Kantha said that as well as officials arriving on "diplomatic, service, and passport for public affairs," the rules would incorporate "Chinese citizens travelling on ordinary passports under organized tour groups sanctioned by the Tourism Promotion Authority."
Tourism Promotion Authority chief executive Jerry Argus told Xinhua that in the past a major issue had been the time that it took to process visas, and that now that process will be much faster.
"The time it takes from the moment visa application is submitted, to the time it's granted, it takes a long time - sometimes into months," Argus said.
Argus believes that the new rules will help PNG in attracting China's extensive overseas tourism market.
"At the moment the number of outbound tourists from China is leading the entire world so PNG is trying to tap into this market as well," he said.
The new rules come shortly after national airline, Air Niugini, announced that they would commence a direct flight route between Shanghai and PNG, commencing in September.
Air Niugini's acting CEO Tahawar Durrani told Xinhua that tickets are already open for bookings from this week.
"We are looking at first flight departing on Tuesday, Oct. 23," he said.
The flight will departing from Port Moresby and arrive at China's financial hub of Shanghai.
Set to be a boom for the PNG economy, the news comes as the country is set to host the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in November.
With all eyes squarely focused the South Pacific nation in the run-up to the event, PNG Minister Responsible for APEC, Justin Tkatchenko, recently said the government is looking to do all it can during this time to boost the tourism sector and showcase the county's immense natural beauty.
Looking to attract vast numbers of Chinese travelers to the tropical, sun-drenched nation, PNG has also moved to relax many visa restrictions for Chinese visitors.
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