France to fast-track visa approval for tourists from China
Mainland tour operators are praising France's decision to fast-track visas for Chinese tourists, saying the move will boost travel to the popular destination.
Travel permits for mainland tourists will be processed within two days starting January 27, as part of measures announced by French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius on Monday to mark 50 years of full diplomatic relations between Paris and Beijing.
"For us, the faster, the better," said Shanghai-based travel agent Ye Xin, noting that the current processing period was between three to five working days,
France is the most visited country in the world and the leading European destination for Chinese tourists - a record 1.4 million of them visited last year. French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said during his a five-day visit to Beijing last month that there were as many as 300 million potential Chinese visitors to France.
A total of 97 million Chinese tourists travelled overseas last year, 14 million more than in 2012, according to China's National Tourism Administration, making the country the world's largest source of tourists.
Last year, Chinese tourists pumped 102 billion yuan (HK$130 billion) into the economies of the countries they visited, a 40 per cent increase from the previous year, according to the latest Green Book of China's Tourism.