The Great Wall and Tiananmen Square still draw large numbers of tourists, but it is the new modern China that boosts its appeal.
23 August 2012
Tourist China visa rules tightened
Beijing has added new restrictions to the China visa for visiting tourists which require applicants to supply a letter of invitation and proof of hotel reservations.
China's emergence as a global competitor to the US in economic terms has had several knock on effects, not least its rise to one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world.
China welcomed almost 56 million international tourists in 2010 according to the World Bank, behind only France and the US. This number has doubled in little over a decade while America's tourism industry has remained relatively stationary.
The World Tourist Organisation claims China has the potential to become the most popular tourist destination in the world by 2015.
However, one Shanghai-based analyst says new tourist visa rules threaten to undermine the country's appeal.
"If implemented strictly, the new requirements could have an impact on the number of foreign tourists," said Zhang Lu of Capital Securities Corp.
The changes are believed to be part of an effort by the Chinese government to crackdown on illegal workers in the world's fastest growing economy.
The new rules require tourist visa applicants to submit an invitation letter from an 'authorised tourism unit', company or person inviting them to the country, as well as copies of return flights and hotel reservations.
The Worldwide Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company that offers Chinese visa advice and services.