(Yicai Global) March 20 -- The number of Chinese group tourists who have applied for foreign visas to travel abroad during the upcoming Labor Day holiday doubled recently as China further eases its outbound travel restrictions, according to leading Chinese travel agencies.
The number of visa applications by group tour participants for trips over the Labor Day break between April 29 and May 3 soared two-fold in the past half month compared with the same period in February, data from Trip.Com showed.
China’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism approved the first batch of 20 countries to which Chinese citizens can travel in groups in February. It added 40 others, including France, Italy, and Brazil, on March 15.
Travelgo.Com said the number of tourist visa inquiries in the countries added to the list on March 15 more than quadrupled, with searches on related pages up 77 percent.
Visa searches in the past week soared 886 percent from a year earlier, with the number of visa applications up 680 percent, according to data from Fliggy. Japan, Thailand, the United States, and Malaysia are proving to be the most popular destinations.
So far, visa applications for April departures have increased by the double-digits from March, said Fang Zexi, an industry analyst at Ctrip Research Institute. Although applications for the May Day holiday have not yet peaked, the growth trend is clear, Fang added.
Foreign travel visas for Chinese citizens can be approved within 15 days to a month, with the exception of those for Europe and the US, which take about one to two months, Fang noted. The earliest appointment times available for applying for European and US visas is mid-to-late April, she said, adding that some people have already scheduled bookings for July and August.
Editor: Futura Costaglione