China Waives Visas for Visitors from The Bahamas

China-Bahamas Mutual Visa Exemption AgreementThe Mutual Visa Exemption Agreement between China and the Bahamas goes into effect on Feb. 12. The new agreement allows a person holding a valid Diplomatic, Official, Service, Public Affairs, or Ordinary passport from The Bahamas to transit through or visit China visa free for up to 30 days.

To be eligible, an individual must hold a passport from The Bahamas as well as a round-trip ticket for entry and exit. He or she must also meet China’s general entry requirements.

However, persons “who intend to enter and stay … [for] more than thirty (30) days” or “to study, reside, engage in employment, media activities or other activities” must apply for and be granted a visa before travel.

The Mutual Visa Exchange Agreement was signed Dec. 19, 2013.

The visa agreement is really just a sidebar to the main story, which is China’s investment in The Bahamas. According to the Miami Herald, the Baha Mar mega–resort — four new hotels, 200,000 square feet of convention space, an 18-hole Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course and a casino with a 50-foot glass water wall and a Vegas-style show lake — will transform Bahamian tourism, putting it on the map as a world-class gaming destination. The Export-Import Bank of China providing has provided $2.4 billion in financing, and China State Construction Engineering Corp. is the general contractor. This is the largest tourism project under development in the Western Hemisphere. While North America will continue to be the main source of tourists to The Bahamas, the visa agreement aims to attract Chinese visitors to help China make a profit on its investment.

China now grants 30-day visa waivers to visitors holding ordinary passports from seven countries: The Bahamas, Brunei, Mauritius, San Marino, The Seychelles, Singapore, and Japan.

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