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Major travel agencies are coming up with package tours designed to take advantage of China’s decision to remove visa requirements for short-term visits by Japanese starting Sept. 1, industry officials said Tuesday.

On Friday, industry leader JTB Corp. will put on sale a four-day package tour to Beijing for which it will accept applications three days prior to departure, compared with the minimum 18 days for JTB’s existing tours to China.

Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing unveiled a plan during a meeting in Tokyo with Foreign Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi earlier this month to waive visa requirements for Japanese on short-term visits. The waiver applies to visits of up to 15 days for both sightseeing and business trips.

According to JTB, it currently takes an average of 10 days to obtain a visa for short-term visits to China.

To commemorate the elimination of the time-consuming procedure, JTB will offer the new tour to Beijing between Sept. 1 and Oct. 30 for 49,000 yen to 55,000 yen, including hotel accommodations and round-trip airfare. The prices are 30 percent to 40 percent lower than those of JTB’s existing tours to the Chinese capital.

Among other travel agencies, Kinki Nippon Tourist Co. will accept applications for its tours to China three days prior to departure, down from the two weeks currently required, while H.I.S. Co. will cut prices of tours to China by 20 percent to 30 percent throughout the year.

China surpassed South Korea in 2001 as the second most popular destination for Japanese tourists after the United States.

So far this year, however, the number of Japanese people visiting China has fallen sharply due to the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome.

Industry officials expect the Chinese decision to lead to a 20 percent increase in the number of Japanese tourists.