New visa policy to benefit US, China tourism

Updated: 2012-02-13 16:18


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BEIJING - Insiders say the new US visa application policy for Chinese, which took effect Monday, will benefit the tourism industries of both countries.

The new policy shortens the visa application process to three weeks, and Chinese applicants can renew their visas that have expired for less than four years without further interviews.

The US embassy has also added 50 visa officers to its China service.

Its visa-processing capacity in China is likely to increase up to 40 percent this year, according to Gary Locke, US ambassador to China.

"This is definitely good news for domestic travel agencies running overseas tourism services," said Wei Bin, director of Vacation Service Department from the travel agency website

Wei said America became a new tourism market for China as group tours to the United States only started to be allowed in June 2008, when the United States began granting Approved Destination Status (ADS) visas to Chinese tourists.

Many Chinese tourists have preferred to visit Europe because it was easier for them to get visas.

Zhang Huiling, manager of America section with the Overseas Tour Department from the China Youth Travel Service (CYTS), said the time it took to get a visa to the United Stated affected people's willingness to visit there.

"We used to advise our clients to register 50 days, and even 100 days for statutory holidays, ahead of schedule. Once the clients had other plans, they were likely to give up their trip to the US," said Zhang.

As tourists who went to the United States less than four years ago can renew their visa without interview under the new policy, more people would probably separate their travel to the U.S. into several trips, he said.

"A long holiday may be tiring, and also a luxury for white-collars, who have limited annual leave," said Zhang, adding CYTS will soon introduce short-term group trips, about eight days for a round trip, to the United States.

Apart from China, the US also has simplified the visa application process for Brazilian applicants.

Zhang Jianping, director of the international economic cooperation department from the Academy of Macroeconomic Research under the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), said the United States is relying more on new economies such as China and Brazil.

"The simplified visa application will help boost the consumption of Chinese tourists in the US," he said.