Chinese passports now 'more welcome'

Chinese passports now 'more welcome'

Guangzhou civil servant Fiona Feng cannot forget her first visit to southern France in 2007 - but it's not the beautiful beaches that linger in her memory.

What the 37-year-old remembers most vividly is the arduous process she had to go through to get tourist visas for herself, her husband and their two-year-old child for the two-week holiday.

It involved submitting to the French embassy more than a dozen documents: from the couple's employment contracts, recent credit card transactions, car ownership certificate and property deed, to the child's birth certificate and the entire travel itinerary, including return flight tickets and hotel reservations.

"I had to get all the documents certified as authentic, which was very troublesome. I also had to plan my itinerary and book the hotels in advance," said Ms Feng.

It took her a month to get the paperwork ready and another week before the visas were issued.

That's why she is excited by reports last weekend that France is simplifying visa approvals for Chinese citizens, who will need to wait only two days.

France joins a growing list of countries that have waived or relaxed visa requirements to woo the world's biggest-spending holidaymakers.

Some 20 countries, including the United States, Singapore and Australia, have taken steps such as allowing online visa applications, slashing approval time and providing multiple-entry visas, said Professor Wang Xingbin, an expert on tourism.

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