– Chinese Visitors set to travel light abroad

According to a report by Su Zhou and Zheng Xin a growing number of countries are modifying their visa-application procedures in order to attract more Chinese tourists.
Many Beijing residents have just been given a surprising six-day holiday to coincide with the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit being held in the Chinese capital in November. The unexpected break has resulted in a boost for tourist agencies, and domestic tourism spots and countries that have relaxed their visa-application procedures will be the big winners.
Dai Yu, marketing director of the Tourism Department of Ctrip, an online travel service provider stated that the number of trips booked to countries with easier visa-application processes has risen sharply in the past few days. He said, “When we introduce our travel products, we recommend those countries because of the limited time on offer. ”Now Chinese tourists have a wider range of choices than before, so if they can have a great vacation in a country that doesn’t require a visa at all, they won’t bother to choose one where it takes days to obtain a permit,” said Dai, who added that 49 countries and regions
have visa-free or “visa-on-arrival policies” for Chinese citizens.
The World Tourism Cities Federation and Ipsos reported in August, the top three visa-related problems Chinese outbound tourists experience are time-consuming application procedures, the strict requirements for obtaining visas, and very expensive fees.
In recent months, many countries have introduced easier ways of obtaining visas, by speeding up the process, reducing the documentation required, opening more application centers, and providing longer term multi-entry visas for regular visitors, despite concerns about issues such as overstays, terrorism, and illegal immigration.
During Premier Li Keqiang’s visit to Germany on Oct 10, Berlin announced that it would shorten the visa-application process to 48 hours – at present, it takes at least three to five working days – and, to cater to people from inland China, more visa application centers will be opened in those areas.
The Canada Tourism Bureau said it upgraded single-entry visas to multi-entry ones earlier this year, hoping to attract more Chinese visitors by making it easier for them to travel to the country. Minister-counselor for consular affairs at the United States embassy in Beijing, Charles Bennett, said that in the last three years the embassy has taken steps to make visa applications simpler, more efficient, and less expensive. As a result, most applications have been processed within an average of five working days.
Thailand waived visa fees for tourists from the Chinese mainland and Taiwan from August to October. The United Kingdom has introduced a ”super priority” visa service in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou under which Chinese citizens can obtain a visa within 24 hours of applying. Meanwhile, Italy has shortened its application process to 36 hours, and France has adopted a 48-hour service for Chinese tourists.
In 2012, China became the world’s largest tourism source market – the World Tourism Organization calculates that Chinese expenditure on foreign travel hit $129 billion in 2013 – and is expected to overtake the United States as the world’s largest travel and tourism economy in 2027. Encouraged by the drift, Chinese travel agencies are planning to expand their overseas travel operations.

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