Italy eases visa restrictions for Chinese tourists
Italy Rules & Law
Rome introduced several actions to make it easier for Chinese citizens to get a visa. As announced by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the visa application process can now be started at the nearest consular office. This might not seem like such a radical innovation, but until a few months ago everyone had to go to the office closest to their household residence â€“ the so-called hukou â€“ or, alternatively, to the place in which a Chinese worker is allowed to live with a temporary permit.
THE GREEN TRACK IS OPEN - The Ministry explains that the initiative is a measure â€œto foster the tourism and business flows to Italy and follows other recent innovations for faster visa emissions by consular offices.â€ In fact, in March a fast track (â€œgreen trackâ€) was introduced in Guangzhou, Southern China, to exempt from consular interviews all travelers going to Italy with a selected list of major tour operators such as the popular Ctrip. Under this system, the waiting time to get an Italian visa is expected to fall from six days to a maximum of 72 hours. At the same time, the Consulate General in Guangzhou began talks with China Southern Airlines to start direct flights to Rome. The Guangdong Province, together with adjacent areas, represents the main place of origin of the Chinese citizens living in Italy. Moreover, visa applications in the city once known as Canton surged 20% from 2012, hitting 57,000 in 2013. Tourism was stated as the reason for travel on many of these visa requests.
A MATTER OF GOLD - Last October, the United Kingdom opened the way to speeding up the release of tourist visas as a way to attract wealthy travelers. With its top luxury brands (duty-free, according to Beijing), Italy is the first choice for Mandarin-speaking tourists to spend their money, according to the 2013 Hurun Report on â€œThe Chinese Luxury Traveler.â€ In addition to Guangzhou, the â€œgreen trackâ€ is scheduled to be launched in Chongqing by the end of this year.