Business / Industries

Mexico plans simpler visa norms to attract Chinese tourists

By Andrea Deng (China Daily) Updated: 2015-06-17 09:56

Mexico and other Pacific Alliance nations are looking to simplify visa procedures and improve transport solutions to attract more Chinese tourists, especially those traveling to the United States.

It is estimated that Chinese tourists traveling to the United States will reach 20 million by 2020. "We want to be part of that tourism opportunity," said Alicia Buenrostro Massieu, Mexico's consul general to the Hong Kong and Macao special administrative regions.

Buenrostro Massieu said the tourist numbers are based on a study conducted by the Global Tourism Economy Research Center, founded by prominent businesswoman Pansy Ho.

Mexico received roughly 75,000 Chinese tourists last year, a 25 percent growth compared with 2013, according to Claudia Ruiz Massieu Salinas, secretary of tourism of Mexico.

The country has also allowed visa-free access for Chinese tourists holding an American visa.

Government officials and industry leaders of the tourism sector in Mexico recently held discussions with a 30-member delegation from China including Hong Kong and Macao-members of GTERC, China Chamber of Tourism as well as China Women's Chamber of Commerce.

The delegates visited Teotihuacan, a UNESCO World Heritage site and seat of Aztec culture. They also visited Cancun, a famed beach resort developed by the Mexican authorities four decades ago. Near Cancun is Chichen-Itza-one of the most famous archeological remains of Mayan civilization that was voted as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.

"Mexico provides an abundance of unique travel experiences," said Wang Ping, chairwoman of the China Chamber of Tourism and one of the delegates. "I am really impressed with the services here. Even in the small shops, the shop assistants are quite helpful and the way they serve is very pleasant," she said.

As the current "president country" of the Pacific Alliance, Mexico is responsible for planning, discussing and solving common problems regarding receiving Chinese tourists, particularly the long travel distance without direct flights and the inconvenient visa application procedures, according to Massieu Salinas.

The inadequate tax refund system of Mexico needs to be improved as part of the effort to attract Chinese tourists, said Ildefonso Guajardo Villarreal, Mexico's secretary of economy.

Ho told Mexican officials that the GTERC intends to conduct research regarding Chinese tourists interested in visiting Latin American countries, in order to prove that there is really a demand for traveling to South American countries.

That would provide more incentives for airline companies to open up the flight routes, she said.

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