In the wake of a stringent COVID-19 lockdown that brought its tourism sector to a standstill between 2020 and 2022, China is making a concerted effort to reinvigorate its tourism market by simplifying the process for foreigners to visit the country.
In an announcement this week, new visa application requirements have been introduced, significantly reducing the burden on applicants. One of the most notable changes is that applicants are now only required to provide one year of travel history, as opposed to the previous five-year requirement.
Mao Ning, a spokesperson for China’s foreign ministry, shared insights into the improvements during a press briefing on Wednesday, stating, “The improvements encompass seven major items and 15 sub-items, primarily related to the applicants’ educational background, family information, and past travel history.”
Furthermore, the previous necessity for visa applicants to report their complete educational history has been replaced by a more straightforward requirement to specify their highest achieved degree. These alterations are anticipated to streamline the visa application process, ultimately reducing the time taken to complete applications.
Mao Ning emphasized the government’s commitment to facilitating people-to-people exchanges between China and other nations, as well as promoting high-quality development and extensive international engagement.
In 2019, China welcomed over 65 million international visitors, generating nearly $900 billion in revenue, according to China’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism.
Unfortunately, no official data is available regarding foreign travelers visiting China between 2020 and 2022, a period marked by stringent COVID-19 quarantine measures and the suspension of both domestic and international travel. Reports indicate a staggering 60% decline in tourism revenue over the past three years.
In contrast to countries like the United States, the United Kingdom, and France, which offer visa-free entry to visitors from many nations, China generally requires visa applications from most countries.
Simultaneously, an increasing number of Chinese citizens are venturing abroad for leisure and educational purposes. In 2019, China ranked as the world’s largest outbound tourism market, with Chinese travelers spending a substantial $127.5 billion on foreign trips.
Between January and May of this year, Thailand recorded a remarkable 1 million Chinese tourists, with officials expecting to host over 5 million Chinese visitors by year-end, as reported by Reuters.
While the number of Chinese tourists visiting the United States plummeted from 2.8 million in 2019 to just 192,000 in 2021 due to the height of COVID-19 restrictions, the U.S. National Travel & Tourism Office anticipates a resurgence. It projects that the number of Chinese visitors will rise from 850,000 this year to nearly 1.4 million in 2024.
Reference: VOA News