Global EditionASIA 中文双语Français
Home / Business / Industries

Wanderlust returns as tourism booms

By FAN FEIFEI | China Daily | Updated: 2024-05-28 09:42
Share - WeChat
Tourists from the Chinese mainland flock to the Avenue of Stars in Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong, on May 1. [ANDY CHONG/CHINA DAILY]

Visa applications in China are expected to witness a robust recovery this year, fueled by the increase in international flight capacity and eased visa policies for Chinese tourists, said VFS Global, the world's leading visa application outsourcing and technology services provider.

VFS Global said visa application volumes in the first four months have already reached 73 percent of pre-COVID levels, driven by strong travel demand. This year, the figure is projected to be about 70 percent of the level in 2019.

Demand for Schengen visas has always been high, with Germany and Italy being frequent preferences. Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States are also very popular destinations for Chinese residents, said Kishen Singh, chief operating officer for the Chinese mainland, Hong Kong and Mongolia of VFS Global.

Kishen Singh

The number of visa applications for the UK and Canada among Chinese travelers between January and April has almost recovered to about 98 percent and 92 percent, almost equal to levels seen in the same period in 2019, while Germany has exceeded this level by 16 percent, he said.

Except for long holidays such as May Day holiday and National Day holiday, summer is still the peak period for visa applications due to summer vacations and overseas students preparing to go abroad, Singh said, adding that he is optimistic about the prospects of the recovery of outbound tourism this year.

At present, VFS Global has more than 400 visa application centers across 15 cities in China, serving 34 client governments. It manages the nonjudgmental and administrative tasks for visa and passport applications as well as consular services for the governments it serves, but plays no role in the decision-making process of granting or refusing visas.

The company has intensified its investments in China for visa application centers' refurbishment and expansion across different cities to meet the growing demand of international travel.

Singh noted that before the pandemic, group tours mainly focused on large groups, but nowadays there are smaller groups, and people aspire to experience more diverse destinations and enjoy higher-quality services.

Moreover, personalized value-added visa application services such as "visa at your doorstep" and "VIP lounge services" are increasingly gaining popularity among applicants.

The most visa applications originated from Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou in Guangdong province, and there is rising demand in smaller cities, he added. "From the perspective of visa services, Chinese travelers are increasingly willing to pay for personalized, customized and convenient services."

According to the Civil Aviation Administration of China, scheduled international passenger flights have resumed to approximately 73 percent of their pre-pandemic levels.

China saw outbound passenger trips exceed 87 million last year, and this is projected to reach 130 million in 2024, said a report published by the China Tourism Academy.

Singh said that with the resumption of international flights and opening-up of visa appointments, Chinese citizens have a strong desire to travel to European countries and spend on luxury travel.

He emphasized the young Chinese generation now tends to value "purpose" more than "destination "in terms of outbound travel, and wants to experience different cultures.

Vacations, concerts, sporting events and medical or healthcare services are combined together to become the purpose of their outbound tourism, he said, suggesting that applicants should apply for their visas in advance to avoid visa processing delays during peak seasons.

The country's outbound travel has seen a strong recovery since the beginning of the year, and Chinese tourists' consumption during outbound travel this year will be more diversified, experts said.

They added that the booming outbound travel rush is a testament to China's bolstering consumption, which plays a vital role in expanding domestic demand and promoting overall economic growth.

Dai Bin, president of the China Tourism Academy, said China's outbound trip segment is expected to see a robust recovery this year, which will inject strong impetus into the prosperity of the country's tourism sector. He added that Chinese travelers' enthusiasm for outbound trips has unleashed a surge in visa applications.

Copyright 1995 - . All rights reserved. The content (including but not limited to text, photo, multimedia information, etc) published in this site belongs to China Daily Information Co (CDIC). Without written authorization from CDIC, such content shall not be republished or used in any form. Note: Browsers with 1024*768 or higher resolution are suggested for this site.
License for publishing multimedia online 0108263

Registration Number: 130349