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Visa rules haven't hurt US demand

By Chen Jia in San Francisco  (China Daily)

08:52, September 07, 2012

The number of Americans applying for visas to China has remained flat since the country revised its rules for visitors from the United States.

"We have seen a stable number of applications since the launch of new visa rules on Aug 1," Chen Xiongfeng, a visa-affairs officer at the Chinese embassy in Washington, told China Daily this week.

"The feedback from visa officers is positive."

Chen said the new rules are in line with other countries' procedures and require Americans applying for Chinese tourist or business visas to submit a letter from an authorized tourism agency, a company or an individual inviting them to China.

The letter should include personal information of both host and invitee, along with information such as the purpose of the visit, arrival and departure dates, places to be visited and who will pay for the visitor's accommodations in China.

Applicants also can, but aren't required to, submit materials including a copy of their round-trip ticket or hotel reservation, Chen said.

The visa officer spoke in response to media reports which had expressed worries that the changed visa rules could jeopardize the country's goal to become world's top tourism destination.

About 2.12 million US-based visa holders visited China last year, according to the Ministry of Public Security.

"The new, complicated rules will impede China's tourism industry," a manager of a Chinese-visa service provider in California said. He declined to be named.

Tim Caswell, a Californian, received a visa to China at the end of August.

"My biggest problem was that the nearest consulate from my house is 300 miles away and doesn't accept mailed applications," he said.

But for about $400, Caswell was able to use an outside service to process a rush order through the mail to get his visa from China's consulate in San Francisco in two days.

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