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Mexico opens wider to Chinese tourists, more improvement still needed
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11:31, April 24, 2009

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Mexican government has taken concrete steps to make it easier for Chinese citizens to visit Mexico, but major improvement is still needed, a senior tourism official said Thursday.

Mexico has scrapped visa requirement for Chinese nationals living in Macao and allowed Mexican consulates in China to process visa applications, said Alejandro Rojas, head of Mexico City's Tourism Department.

It has also extended visas for both tourist and business visitors to a maximum term of 10 years and a maximum 180 days for the visa holders to stay in Mexico, said the Mexican official.

In order to promote Mexican tourism, the Mexican government has eased visa restrictions for technicians and business people from other parts of China, and put up signs in Chinese at international airports in Tijuana and Mexico City, in addition to training 16 Chinese-speaking staff members, Rojas said.

Rojas added that the achievements are the results of the efforts by Mexico's National Migration Agency during the first Mexico-China International Tourism Congress, which was held on March 18-22 in Mexico City.

Despite the improved measures, obstacles still remain, such as the fact that only the embassy in Beijing and the consulate in Shanghai can issue visas. Visa applicants have to travel to one of these two cities to complete the final procedure of the visa application process -- a personal interview and fingerprinting.

If this process were to be streamlined, it would represent 2 billion U.S. dollars worth of additional tourism business for the city, Rojas said.

"A review of migration policy is needed because we are closing the door to world tourism, especially to visitors from emerging markets like Brazil, Russia and China," he said.

A total of 250,000 tourists have visited the U.S. state of Hawaii, but only 18,000 people went to Mexico, he added.


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