New China visa rules threaten tourism industry

- Posted in Worldwide by Visa Bureauon 29 August 2012

Chinese tourism has more than doubled in the last decade alone and now welcomes the third most tourists a year, behind only France and the US. If predictions come to fruition and current trends continue, China could become the world's most popular tourist destination by the end of the current decade.

However, despite almost 56 million people visiting the Asian giant last year alone, Beijing introduced stricter tourist visa rules this month to clampdown on visa overstayers and illegal workers.

Under the new rules, applicants are required to submit proof of their hotel reservations, flight bookings and even a letter of invitation from an 'authorised tourism unit', company or person inviting them to visit.

The rule changes have been met with dismay with many unsure of what constitutes an 'authorised tourism unit' and the length of time it will take Chinese authorities to verify applications.

One travel agent warned the changes could severely impact the country's tourism appeal.

"Many tourists, especially individual foreign travellers, will possibly change their destination as they feel it is inconvenient to find an authorised travel agency or individual to provide an invitation letter," said Wang Yi of the China-based Topline Travel International Company.

Wang said the agency had already seen an increase in applicants complaining about the complicated procedure.

The Worldwide Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in Chinese visa and immigration services.