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Joint visa center to increase Chinese tourists

(China Daily)

09:27, October 31, 2012

German-French joint facility to increase Chinese tourists to Europe

Germany and France officially opened the first joint visa application center in Beijing on Tuesday, to ease the application process and attract more Chinese to Europe.

The newly built center can make the process of applying for a visa more convenient, but Chinese are still required to provide extensive material in the application process, analysts said, urging that the process should be made more transparent.

Chinese who want to apply to Schengen countries - 26 European countries that signed a mutual borderless zone pact - can hand in visa applications to the center instead of going to the German or French embassies.

The center can handle more visa applications at the same time than was previously possible. Applicants can get visas within two weeks on average, said Alejandro Taylor-Escribano, a project manager from the TLScontact company.

The company helps applicants understand visa regulations and application procedures and prepare their applications to the embassies.

The new center was built to reduce the waiting time for an appointment to submit visa applications and facilitate the application process for Chinese passport holders, said German Ambassador Michael Schaefer.

The number of Chinese traveling to Europe has grown enormously in recent years, resulting in longer waiting periods throughout the application process, especially during peak tourism season.

Sylvie Bermann, the French Ambassador to China, said she believes that more Chinese will travel to Europe in the future, and the center can handle more than the possible number of Chinese visa applicants.

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