In a move that could profoundly enhance travel between India and China, the Chinese Embassy in India has announced interim changes to its visa regulations effective until December 31, 2023.
According to a Times of India post, the notification shows these adjustments:
- Indian travelers applying for visas for tourism, business, transit, or short-term family visits will not be mandated to provide biometric data.
- Primarily benefiting those below 14 and above 70, the rule change skips the fingerprinting procedure, streamlining the visa application process.
- All Indian travelers are advised to contact the Chinese Visa Application Service Centre in New Delhi for up-to-date information.
- Although the visa process has been made more accessible, the standard application prerequisites, including passport requirements and documentation, remain in place.
- Visa costs continue to range from INR 3,800 to INR 7,800, based on the type and duration of the visa.
China Repeals Mandatory Pre-Entry COVID-19 Testing
According to a China Briefing report, to further boost its tourism sector and normalize travel protocols, China has rescinded all pre-entry COVID-19 testing for incoming travelers, effective August 30, 2023.
- Foreign travelers must no longer undergo COVID-19 nucleic acid or antigen tests.
- This landmark decision is expected to enhance inbound tourism and restore normalcy to China’s travel industry.
Backdrop: Challenges in China’s Travel Sector
The report noted that while domestic destinations like Beijing’s Forbidden City witnessed high local footfall in 2023, international tourists remained a rarity.
- Persistent safety apprehensions deterred international travelers.
- An April survey highlighted various concerns, ranging from health risks to visa complications, influencing 58% of potential Chinese travelers to reconsider international trips in 2023.
However, with China’s economy recovering, domestic travel increased significantly.
A projected RMB5 trillion (US$700 billion) in travel-associated revenue was expected, and destinations beyond metropolises grew in popularity.
Strategic Steps Towards Tourism Revival
China decided to do away with pre-entry testing after they restarted visa applications, including visa-free policies, earlier in March 2023. This aims to spark interest in China as a prime travel destination.
COVID-19 Precautions for Travelers in China
The report noted that although travel restrictions are easing:
- Tourists should follow health guidelines such as hand hygiene, optional mask usage in public, and avoiding crowded areas.
- Certain settings, like nursing homes and medical institutions, still mandate mask-wearing.
- For those who test positive for COVID-19, mask usage remains obligatory.
This dual strategy, relaxing visa norms for Indian travelers while eliminating pre-entry testing requirements, underscores China’s commitment to reenergizing its travel industry and deepening international relations while focusing on health and safety.
As the world watches, these initiatives could set a new precedent in post-pandemic travel.