23 July 2008
China increases visa and security measures for Olympics
The Chinese Government are not leaving anything to chance in this year’s Olympic Games; tough security measures and visa restrictions are now a top priority and the hospitality industry is already starting to feel the effects, reports The Guardian.
With the opening ceremony due to kick-off next month, the Chinese immigration department should be expecting around half a million international visitors to arrive in the country for the event on Chinese visas.
All visitors to China are required to gain a Chinese visa to gain entry. The tourist visa, or Ordinary Visa, has eight sub-categories for eligibility. According to Chinatravel.net, some travellers have been scared off by the extra precautionary steps in the tourist visa application process. For example, from July through to October, tourists to China will not be able to apply for an extension to their 30-day tourist visa. Applicants for a visa will also have to provide proof of hotel bookings for each night they are staying in the country, and will need to provide a photograph so that ID cards can be made for public transport travel. Passports must be valid for at least six months after the Games, and have plenty of extra pages. All applications must be accompanied by proof of return flights and an employer’s letter confirming the applicant is going on vacation for the period stated on the airline ticket. Immigration police will also penalise over-stayers harshly.
The Government are also tightening security measures; already hospitality venues are constantly checked for drugs and prostitutes, luggage is routinely checked for dangerous substances or objects, and public transport will require photographic identification in all cities hosting the Olympics, reports the Guardian. During the opening and closing ceremonies, all flights in and out of Beijing airport will be suspended.
While the security measures and tightened visa restrictions are positives for the safety of the Chinese community, local hospitality industry spokespeople have said they are starting to feel the effects. Most four and five star hotels are booked out during the Games, but many people have voiced their concerns that the Chinese tourism economy could benefit more from relaxing the laws. They see the positives of having a safe Olympic Games, but "the long-term effect is that people can’t do deals," said Paul French, Chief China Analyst at the Shanghai-based research firm Access Asia.
The Worldwide Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in Chinese visas and immigration services.
Article by Jessica Bird, Worldwide Visa Bureau.