I noticed this sentence in a recent New York Times article:

Since China put the European Union on its list of approved tourist destinations, the volume of Chinese sightseers to Europe has surged, with many taking advantage of more direct flights to shop and see the sights and to pour millions into staggering economies.

(Emphasis mine)

I had never heard of this list before, and I am now curious. What countries are on the list of approved tourist destinations for Chinese citizens? Googling this has only given me lists of tourist destinations within China.

  • 2
    As always happens when reporting about foreign countries, it's perfectly plausible that he NYT got it wrong and the "list" is just a recommendation from some sort of a tourist website, rather than an official government list.
    – JonathanReez
    Aug 6, 2017 at 15:57
  • 1
    The Chinese government does make a list of approved tourist destinations. However, they practically can't and aren't much interested in stopping you from visiting destinations not on the list. This is more of an an approval for tour agencies doing group tours.
    – xuq01
    Aug 6, 2017 at 18:16
  • 2
    There's a list of 113 countries with Approved Destination Status agreements up until 2012 at the end of uhero.hawaii.edu/assets/WP_2012-6R.pdf -- not a very authoritative source but the best I've been able to google up so far. chinacontact.org/en/what-is-ads-policy claims there are now 146 countries with agreements, but does not list them. Aug 6, 2017 at 20:44
  • @JonathanReez The New York Times is a quality newspaper. I wouldn't expect them to be that dumb. Aug 7, 2017 at 8:58
  • The ADS is a quasi bilateral agreement to simplify the visa procedures for Chinese tourist groups (less visa requirements). It has nothing to do with individual travelers as well as travelers who meet the general visa requirements. For example, if a traveler with limited income cannot get visa under general requirement, he/she could try to join the tourist group. Aug 8, 2017 at 15:48

1 Answer 1


Based on my understanding of this page at China National Tourism Administration, there are currently 125 countries with Approved Destination Status. Google translates the page as "Outbound travel destination country where area business has been officially launched", and the dates and countries agree with this paper from University of Hawaii (linked in Henning's comment on the question). Since 2012 a few countries has been added. Below is the complete list of countries with Approved Destination Status as of August 8th, 2017, with the year the countries were added.

  • 1983 Hong Kong, Macau
  • 1988 Thailand
  • 1990 Malaysia, Singapore
  • 1992 Philippines
  • 1998 South Korea
  • 1999 Australia, New Zealand
  • 2000 Brunei, Cambodia, Japan, Myanmar, Vietnam
  • 2002 Egypt, Indonesia, Malta, Nepal, Turkey
  • 2003 Croatia, Cuba, Germany, Hungary, India, Maldives, Pakistan, South Africa, Sri Lanka
  • 2004 Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Jordan, Kenya, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Mauritius, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Seychelles, Slovenia, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Tanzania, Tunisia, Zambia, Zimbabwe
  • 2005 Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Brazil, Chile, Fiji, Jamaica, Lao PDR, Mexico, Northern Mariana Islands, Peru, Russia, United Kingdom, Vanuatu
  • 2006 Bahamas, Grenada, Mongolia, Tonga
  • 2007 Andorra, Argentina, Bangladesh, Bulgaria, Uganda, Morocco, Monaco, Namibia, Venezuela, Oman, Syria
  • 2008 French Polynesia, Israel, Taiwan, United States
  • 2009 Cape Verde, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Ghana, Guyana, Mali, Montenegro, Papua New Guinea, United Arab Emirates
  • 2010 Canada, Lebanon, Federated States of Micronesia North Korea, Uzbekistan, Serbia
  • 2011 Iran
  • 2012 Madagascar, Colombia, American Samoa*, Cameroon*
  • 2013 Rwanda*
  • 2014 Ukraine*
  • 2015 Costa Rica, Georgia*
  • 2016 Macedonia*, Armenia*, Senegal*, Kazakhstan*
  • 2017 Sudan*, Uruguay*

Starred countries are countries I've added based on my translation of the page of China National Tourism Administration, linked above. I've included the picture on that page below, feel free to improve my translations.Countries with Approved Destination Status


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