"Reforms of Chinese visa policy hope to rebalance the tourist deficit" is jointly released by the Center for China and Globalization and Ctrip in Beijing on Jan. 10, 2019. [Photo by Zhang Liying/China.org.cn]
A report released on Thursday called for reforms in China's visa policy to facilitate inbound tourism and narrow the growing tourist deficit.
"Reforms of Chinese visa policy hope to rebalance the tourist deficit" was jointly compiled by the Center for China and Globalization (CCG), a Beijing-based think tank, and Ctrip, a Chinese travel service provider.
The report said that China's current classification of visas is traditional and conservative compared to those of Western countries, suggesting a wider variety of visas to better meet the demands of international arrivals.
An online self-service platform was recommended in the report to make visa application easier while lowering labor costs overseas.
The report highlighted the impact of technologies on exit-entry administration. "With the application of information technologies such as big data and biometric identification, it is very likely that paper-based passports and related documents will become obsolete, and we can enter and leave other countries only through facial recognition," said Li Qing, a researcher at CCG.
According to the Henley Passport Index, China ranks 71st in terms of passport power, enjoying visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to 74 destinations, while Japan with 190 destinations has the most powerful passport, including 68 with mutual visa exemption.
China now has bilateral visa-free travel agreements with 14 countries, Thursday's report noted, while suggesting the country extend the scope of visa exemption to make inbound and outbound tourism more liberating.
A survey conducted by CCG and Ctrip showed that more than half of those questioned thought the visa application process had a significant influence on their choice of travel destinations.
Nearly half of the world's population have benefitted from open visa policies, including visa-free, visa-on-arrival and online visa application, according to the latest Visa Openness Report published by The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).
Thursday's report showed that China recorded a tourist deficit of 40.26 million (excluding inbound trips by borderers), an increase of 27.26 percent over 2015.