China eases visa application process to attract foreign visitors

Visa applicants now need to list where they have travelled in the past year rather than five years. - Bloomberg

BEIJING (Bloomberg): China said Wednesday (Sept 20) it has simplified its visa application process as it looks to attract more visitors from overseas.

Among the changes, applicants now need to list where they have travelled in the past year rather than five years, while the educational background section requires only the highest level reached, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.

"Applicants will spend much less time filling in the forms and expect a more streamlined visa application process,” it said in a statement. The ministry will always "facilitate people-to-people exchanges between China and foreign countries to promote China’s high-quality development and opening up.”

At a briefing in Beijing, foreign ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning reiterated that the new application forms that went online Wednesday "will greatly shorten the time and ease the application process.”

The often drawn-out visa process has been a hurdle for many people wanting to travel to China. While domestic tourism has rebounded above pre-Covid levels, international travel to and from the country is still well below.

In an interview with Bloomberg News on Tuesday, World Travel & Tourism Council Chief Executive Officer Julia Simpson said it will take until the end of 2024 for Chinese cross-border travel to get back to pre-pandemic levels.

For foreign visitors wanting to get a visa to China, "what we would say to the Chinese government is they’ve already simplified it, but keep making it simpler, simpler, simpler,” she said in the interview in Hong Kong.

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