(Yicai Global) June 20 -- China has started to implement a trans-provincial tax refund scheme for foreign visitors. For the first time, tourists who buy goods in Beijing can claim a tax refund when exiting the country from the city of Tianjin and vice versa.
The trans-provincial scheme is currently only available in the municipalities of Beijing and Tianjin. It will gradually be extended to the rest of the country.
Beijing was the first city to implement the refund measure, beginning in July last year, and Tianjin followed suit from January this year. Visitors to the cities from abroad, including Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan, who have stayed for a period of less than 183 days, are entitled to an 11 percent tax refund on eligible VAT-refundable goods upon departure.
Goods must be bought in designated shops that participate in the tax-refund scheme. These are mostly large department stores, well-known brands and shops in or near scenic areas that cater to foreign tourists. Beijing has 407 such shops and Tianjin has 34.
In the first half of this year, the number of inbound tourists reached 65.1 million, 4.5 percent more than the second half of last year, and 3.2 million more than outbound tourists over the same period, according to China's National Tourism Administration. The tourist tax refund scheme is expected to be an added attraction to visitors to China.