Shortly after Premier Dr. Orlando Smith returned from a visit to China this month, government lifted the visa requirement for nationals of that country.

Chinese can now enter and remain in the Virgin Islands for business and tourism related matters for up to six months without a visa, according to Government Information Services.

Like all visitors, however, they will be subject to passport, immigration and other border controls.

Government has described the move as a step that will boost the financial services and tourism sectors by taking advantage of China’s rapid economic growth.

Citing the World Tourism Organisation, government stated that China is now the largest tourism source market in the world.

“Cruises in particular are becoming a booming business for Chinese tourism,” according to a GIS statement. “Some cruises have already started making long distance trips originating in China and traveling directly to the Caribbean.”

In 2016, the VI submitted an application to China for “Approved Destination Status,” which allows countries to promote their tourism product in the Chinese market and to receive Chinese tourist groups.

More than 146 countries and territories have signed an ADS tourism agreement with the Chinese government.

Also under the new visa regime, Chinese business travelers will be able to more easily visit the VI for matters related to their VI-registered companies, including litigation in the VI courts. This, in turn, will help boost business at the BVI International Arbitration Centre, according to GIS.