(BVI NEWS) – Chinese nationals are no longer required to have a visa to enter the British Virgin Islands.
Premier Dr D Orlando Smith made the pronouncement during a press conference on Thursday, June 21.
“We made the decision a few weeks ago … While in Beijing, we also met with senior officials in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Commerce [and] they welcomed the news that Chinese would no longer require a visa to enter the BVI.”
No immediate influx of Chinese
Premier Smith said, due to the distance between the two countries and the number of stops needed to get to the territory, his government will “not be expecting an influx anytime soon”.
“[This is] because the [Chinese] visitors will also depend on access. When people travel, they want to get to their destination as quickly as possible and if you have to make four stops, it is a disincentive,” he added.
He said an expanded TB Lettsome International Airport would play a key role in tapping into one of the largest tourism markets on the planet – China.
China is said to have had 120 million trips overseas [and] spent $215 billion on holidays abroad in 2016.
It is said many of the Caribbean islands are capitalizing on this ‘phenomenon’
There are more than 90 countries whose nationals require visas to enter the territory’s shores.
However, based on a policy implemented a few years ago, persons from these countries no longer need a BVI visa to access the territory if they hold a United States, Canadian, or United Kingdom visa.
The decision to remove China from the visa requirement list also comes as the territory seeks to forge closer ties with the Asian nation in a bid to expand the BVI’s financial services.