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September 25, 2017

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Rise of China's middle class to provoke easing of visa barriers: experts

As China is expected to surpass the United States as the world's largest travel and tourism economy in 2027, experts and industry insiders expect visa barriers targeting Chinese tourists to be eased in the near future.

One of the major inhibitors of the tourism industry is the fact that 70 percent of tourists still need to go to an embassy to visit a foreign destination, said David Scowsill, president and chief executive of the World Travel and Tourism Council.

Yang Jinsong, a professor at the China Tourism Academy who focuses on international tourism, said that visas are still the major hindrance to Chinese outbound tourism, the growth of which would be inestimable without the visa barriers.

"However, thanks to the tremendous growth of China's outbound tourism in recent years, an increasing number of countries are extending an olive branch, by reducing the visa application process for Chinese applicants or waiving the visa requirement in an attempt to attract more Chinese tourists," Yang said. "No one wants to be left behind as China's economic pie is being carved up."

Despite all the concerns, including overstays, terrorism, illegal immigration, considering the potential economic contribution, it is an inescapable trend that visas to most countries will be waived in the future, he said.

"As much of the growth of the tourism and travel industry is coming out of Asia, especially China, more countries will come up with easier visa policies, including e-visas instead of interviews, and reciprocity among nations, to further eliminate visa barriers and make travel easier."

There were more than 98 million outbound visits by Chinese in 2013, and the country's tourism market will exceed more than US$2 trillion five years later, Chinese Vice-Premier Wang Yang said on Thursday at the opening ceremony of the 2014 World Travel & Tourism Council Global Summit in Sanya, Hainan province.

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