The State Council has vowed to make it easier for mainland tourists to apply for travel visas, even as insiders say the arduous process is more a diplomatic issue. The council's general office had organised a meeting with the foreign affairs and public security ministries as well as the National Tourism Administration to improve and simplify government services in processing mainland citizens' applications to leave the country, Xinhua reported. Qu Yunhai, deputy chief of the Ministry of Public Security's Bureau of Exit and Entry Administration, said two types of documents were required for mainlanders to travel abroad - their passports or passes for Hong Kong, Macau or Taiwan, and foreign visas. The headache lay usually in the application for foreign visas, Qu said, which largely depended on the destination country's requirements. "It's always so complicated applying for Schengen and US visas. You have to prepare all the documents even for children," said Huang Biling, who works at the Shenzhen-based China Comfort Travel. "I don't know how the Chinese government can make it easier as it's the other countries' requirements." According to the tourism administration, mainlanders made nearly nine million trips out of the mainland through travel agencies in the first quarter of the year. This was a 21 per cent increase from last year. Thailand, Hong Kong and South Korea were the top three destinations, the agency said. China Tourism Academy researcher Wei Xiao'an said it was still inconvenient for Chinese citizens to travel abroad but that the mainland had done what it could to ease the process. "Simplifying the process is not a one-sided issue. It involves talks about having an equal relationship between two countries," Wei said.