China has granted 59 countries with visa-free access to its southernmost province, the island of Hainan, which has often been compared to Hawaii, in an attempt to attract foreign tourists and boost island’s tourism industry.

According to the new visa-free policy, starting May 1, the tropical island will open up to the nationals of certain countries, who will be allowed to enter and stay for up to 30 days without the need to obtain a visa first.

However, there is still one condition for those who wish to visit the island, since travelers can get entry to Hainan only if they book their tours through travel agencies registered in Hainan Province and approved by the China National Tourism Administration.

The countries which will benefit from the visa-free regime of the Hainan island are listed as follows:

  • Russia
  • United Kingdom
  • France
  • Germany
  • Norway
  • Ukraine
  • Italy
  • Austria
  • Finland
  • Netherlands
  • Denmark
  • Switzerland
  • Sweden
  • Spain
  • Belgium
  • Czech Republic
  • Estonia
  • Greece
  • Hungary
  • Iceland
  • Latvia
  • Lithuania
  • Luxemburg
  • Malta
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • Ireland
  • Cyprus
  • Bulgaria
  • Romania
  • Serbia
  • Croatia
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Montenegro
  • Macedonia
  • Albania
  • United States
  • Canada
  • Brazil
  • Mexico
  • Argentina
  • Chile
  • Australia
  • New Zealand,
  • South Korea
  • Japan
  • Singapore
  • Malaysia
  • Thailand
  • Kazakhstan
  • Philippines
  • Indonesia
  • Brunei
  • Monaco
  • Belarus
  • United Arab Emirates
  • Qatar

A similar visa policy had been adopted in 2000 when tour groups from 21 countries were permitted to enter Hainan visa-free for up to two weeks. Actually the new visa policy is just an extension of the former.

The Hainan island is known for its sandy beaches, resort-lined coast, and over a thousand of villages with unique historical and natural features. Last year the number of visitors to this Chinese island was just above one million, which is barely 1.6% of the number of 60 million domestic visitors that came to the island on the same year.