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Tourism: China eases visa applications for Nigeria and other countries

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China eases visa applications

As part of efforts to encourage foreign tourists, China announced that it had streamlined the visa application procedure.

According to BusinessDay, the Asian country last week said it has simplified its visa application process as it looks to attract more visitors from overseas. Among the changes, applicants now need to list where they have travelled in the past year rather than five years, while the educational background section requires only the highest level reached, Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.

The ministry said candidates could anticipate a more streamlined visa application procedure and would spend significantly less time filling out the documents. The statement stated that the ministry would facilitate interpersonal contacts between China and other nations to promote the country’s high-quality development. Mao Ning, foreign ministry spokesperson reaffirmed during a briefing in Beijing that the new application forms would greatly shorten the time and ease the application process.

READ: News: China to issue new versions of visas from June 1

Before now, many people desiring to visit China have found it difficult due to the protracted visa application process. International travel to and from the nation remains significantly below pre-COVID-19 levels despite domestic tourism recovering above those levels. China’s cross-border travel would not return to pre-pandemic levels until the end of 2024, according to Julia Simpson, World Travel & Tourism Council Chief Executive Officer.

“For foreign visitors wanting to get a visa to China, what we would say to the Chinese government is they’ve already simplified it, but keep making it simpler, simpler, simpler,” Simpson told Bloomberg News. During the COVID pandemic, Nigerians and others in China were discriminated against. In 2020, many Africans were subject to forced coronavirus testing and arbitrary 14-day self-quarantine, regardless of their recent travel history, and scores were left homeless after being evicted by landlords and rejected by hotels under the guise of various virus containment measures.

READ: News: China excludes Africa from countries waived from Visa to Hainan from May 1

However, Zhao Lijian, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, had responded saying, “All foreigners are treated equally. We reject differential treatment, and we have zero tolerance for discrimination”. China’s embassy in South Africa said in a statement: “There is no such thing as the so-called discrimination against Africans in Guangdong province.”

The southern Chinese city of Guangzhou has Asia’s largest African population. While the exact number of Africans living in Guangzhou is unknown. In 2017 more than 320,000 Africans entered or left China through the city, according to state news agency Xinhua.

Air Peace in July commenced flights from Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos to Guangzhou, China. Oluwatoyin Olajide, chief operating officer, Air Peace said Air Peace is officially adding the continent of Asia to it’s network of continents, with the commencement of initial one-weekly flight to Guangzhou-China. Olajide said the Chinese airspace is not new to the carrier, as it has successfully operated several evacuation/special flights to the country at different times in the past, especially in 2020, during the COVID-19 lockdown.

Nnolim Nnaji, former Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Aviation, noted that the commencement of direct flight to China by Air Peace would bring a huge relief to Nigerians and citizens of other African countries who travel regularly on business trips to China and stressed that Nigeria and indeed Africa shared huge business and cultural ties adding that the direct air link will further strengthen such relationships.

He also commended Air Peace “for mustering the courage to begin the long haul flight at the time the entire airlines globally were just struggling to overcome the enormous negative impact of COVID-19 on the aviation sector.”

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