Chinese Passport Opens More Doors in 2014

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Chinese outbound spending has grown rapidly in recent years, and an increasing number of countries have introduced easier visa policies to attract more Chinese visitors, especially in recent months.

In 2014, many countries adjusted their visa application process for Chinese people by speeding it up, reducing the documentation required, opening more application centers, and providing longer term multi-entry visas for regular visitors. Here we take a look at the countries that have made outbound traveling easier to Chinese passport holders.

Up to 10-year US visa for Chinese tourists and businessmen

The United States is serious about welcoming Chinese visitors and the economic opportunities they bring. During last month's Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting held in Beijing, President Barack Obama announced that China and the United States have reached an agreement on a reciprocal 10-year visa that allows multiple entries for tourists and businessmen.

China has a tremendous outbound travel market, accounting for 20 percent of the growth in overseas visits to the United States since 2008. Chinese travelers consistently rank the US as their top travel destination, but only slightly more than 1.8 percent of total outbound travelers have been to the US, according to the White House.

Britain introduces "Super Priority" visa

In July, Britain introduced a "super priority" visa service in China, including a 24-hour visa service and a new service enabling visitors to apply for British and Schengen visa at the same time.

All Chinese visitors will be able to use a single form to process applications for both British and Schengen visas, which are valid in 26 countries in total.

"China is the UK's largest visa market and the number of business travelers and tourists we welcome continues to grow," said James Brokenshire, British Minister for Immigration and Security at the Home Office.

Germany speeds up visa process for Chinese passport

During Premier Li Keqiang's state visit to Germany in October, the two countries agreed to try to shorten the visa process to 48 hours. Germany will also issue more long-term multiple-entry visas in the future. In 2013, Germany issued about 307,000 visas to Chinese citizens, an increase of 16 percent.

France adopts a 48-hour visa service for Chinese tourists

To attract more Chinese tourists, France decided to adopt a 48-hour visa service for Chinese tourists, from Jan 27, 2014, to mark the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between China and France.

Canada upgrades single-entry visas to multi-entry

The Canada Tourism Bureau began upgrading more single-entry visas to multi-entry ones earlier this year, hoping to attract more Chinese visitors by making it easier for them to travel to the country. "The multi-entry visa will allow eligible visitors to stay in Canada for as long as six months per trip, and visa validity has been extended to a 10-year-maximum," according to a bureau spokesperson.

Thailand waived visa fees for Chinese tourists for three months

Thailand waived visa fees for tourists from the Chinese mainland and Taiwan from August to October of 2014.

Italy shortens its application process to 36 hours

The time required for Chinese to apply for an Italian visa has been cut to 36 hours from July 1, 2014. The agreement was reached by Premier Li Keqiang and visiting Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi in June. Previously, an Italian visa required a week for approval.

Singapore to halt walk-in visa but application to be more efficient

The Singapore Embassy and Consulate-General offices in China stopped accepting walk-in visa applications from Dec 8, 2014. Applicants can submit their applications to 57 authorized visa agents in 18 provinces and cities. This move is intended to reduce the workload of the embassy and improve efficiency of application process.

Japan further extends multiple-entry visas to Chinese tourists

Japan recently announced that it would further relax its policy to issue multiple-entry visas to Chinese tourists.

The multiple-entry visa to Chinese tourists was initiated in 2011 to help boost the economy of the areas affected by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. The visa required tourists to stay at least overnight in Fukushima, Iwate or Miyagi. The tourists will be free to stay anywhere in Japan from their second visit onward.

The new visa policy is considering issuing multiple-entry visa to individuals with strong purchasing power, with no attached condition to visit the three places.

Morocco looks to offer individual visas to Chinese tourists

Beyond the 1942 film Casablanca starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman, most Chinese know very little about the distant North African country of Morocco. To improve the two countries relations, both the governments are looking at ways to simplify visa procedures.

From March 6 this year, Chinese service passport holders have not needed a visa to enter Morocco, a first step in making entry to the country easier.

The country also looks to attract more tourists from China, and plans granting individual visas to Chinese tourists, said Salaheddine Mezouar, Foreign Affairs Minister of Morocco.

Currently, Chinese tourists must come in groups to apply for Moroccan tourism visa.