Chinese travelersâ€™ big numbers impose visa modifications
China Market Outbound trends
The most visited cities in the world are the ones where Chinese tourists prefer to go. Latest data from the strategy research company, MORE Euromonitor International, certifies that Hong Kong, Singapore and Bangkok rule the chart. Not by chance, all three are close to China: Hong Kong received 23 million travelers in 2012 and Singapore 21 million. The most visited city in the West is London with 15 million visitors, followed by New York and Paris with 11 and 9 million respectively.
According to the China Tourism Academy, the number of Chinese outbound tourists is expected to top 200 million in 2020; forecasts predict that China will also head the chart of countries with the largest number of international departures (Germany currently holds this position). By contrast, Chinese cities like Shanghai and Beijing experienced a relative decline foreign tourist arrivals. The reason for this might be that only citizens of Singapore, Brunei and Japan can obtain a 15-day, visa-free stay in China.
In order to attract more Mandarin-speaking tourists, several Western countries are easing their visa procedures towards Chinese citizens. In 2012, Germany simplified its rules by requiring less documents, making forms available online and replying with a final decision within 72 hours. Already in 2010, China surpassed Japan as the largest source of Asian travelers to Germany. The aim was to facilitate entry by business people in particular, just like the United Kingdom did in October 2013, when a fast track for visa release was introduced for selected holders of the Shengen visa.
Paris followed Berlinâ€™s example when, last October, French authorities opened a joint visa office with the Germans in Beijing to further speed up Chinese travelers' applications. And starting in 2011, Chinese citizens have been able to visit Ireland on a free-visa regime for up to 90 days, as long they possess a UK visa. Instead, introducing different types of visas and moving the main part of the application procedure online has been the strategy of other countries such as Australia, Singapore and United States.