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Shanghai tourists may get more chances for duty-free shopping

GOOD news for tourists from abroad who want to shop in Shanghai: Authorities are planning tax refunds for overseas tourists on their purchases in some designated local shops and open duty-free shops at the arrival areas of the city's two cruise terminals, officials said today.

“There are many cruise liners visiting Shanghai every year from far away, bringing a lot of overseas tourists and heading to the next stop, and we hope they can shop here,” said Zhang Manxian, deputy director of the customs supervision on luggage and mail division of Shanghai Customs.

In southern China’s Hainan Province, overseas tourists can claim tax refunds of 11 percent on their purchases in some shops when leaving China from Hainan, with a minimum purchase of 800 yuan (US$121). Beijing has similar plans, but details have not been announced.

Shops selling local specialty and folk products are considered because foreign tourists like them. But to avoid losing on the deal, shops need financial support from the central and local administration to cover the consumption tax and value-added tax, Zhang said. He said the effort requires coordination from different authorities.

There are also plans to open duty-free shops at the arrival areas of the Wusongkou International Cruise Terminal in Baoshan District and Shanghai Port International Cruise Terminal on the North Bund in Hongkou District. There is no duty-free shop at the arrival area of either terminal now, meaning tourists can shop at duty-free stores only at the departure terminal buildings. With the new stores, they will be able to shop right after they disembark from the ships.

Approval from state-level authorities is required, according to Zhang.

Meanwhile, authorities are also working on cruise tours on the high seas with no destinations, officials said during a conference call. Such cruises would likely include a casino on the ship and push concepts such as appreciating the sunrise at sea.

"It is expected that local tourists would like a try, like they can spend a weekend on the sea," said Sun Jianping, head of the Shanghai Transport and Port Administration.

The plan has won conceptual approval from the water transport authority of the Ministry of Transport. But more efforts are needed from some other authorities, and it would be a priority of the administration's work this year, Sun said.


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