Chinese tourists going through selected travel agencies will benefit from facilitated procedures to apply for tourist visas from 12 member states of the European Community which have been granted "Approved Destination Status" (ADS) by China.
The 12 nations are: Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany,Greece, Netherlands, Italy, Luxembourg, Portugal, Spain and Sweden.
The memorandum also includes provisions for the return of Chinese who overstay their visa. The memorandum is expected to enter into force before the summer.
The Memorandum of Understanding on Approved Destination Status,which was initialled during the EC-China Summit in Beijing on Oct.30, 2003, is the largest ADS agreement ever concluded by China and will facilitate Chinese tourist groups access to Europe.
Consulates of the 12 countries in China will simplify and facilitate delivery of tourism visas for groups with a minimum of five persons which will apply through designated Chinese travel agencies. China agreed to ensure the return of possible over-staying tourists according to the agreement.
Thanks to the increase in living standards and prosperity of tourism, more and more Chinese people travel abroad. Chinese outbound tourism amounted to 20 million visitors in 2003, up 21.8 percent.
According to the World Tourism Organization, China will become the top tourist destination in the world and the fourth source of outbound tourism, with an estimated 100 million outbound travelersby 2020.
Chinese tourist groups are only allowed to travel to countries which have been granted "Approved Destination Status" by China. Todate China has signed ADS agreements with 59 countries and regionsin the world, among which the routes to 28 nations and regions canbe organized by travel agencies.
In 2002, 645 000 Chinese tourists traveled to the European Union, whereas 1.3 million European tourists visited China. Enditem