Vietnam, Thailand and Malaysia to ease visa rules for Chinese
Three of China's neighbors in Southeast Asia are further easing their visa regimes to attract more Chinese tourists.
Vietnam's Ministry of Finance announced move to lower Chinese visitors' visa-application fees in a new step to boost its tourism. Starting from November 23, Chinese tourists' visa fees would be adjusted to $25 from $45 for a single entry and $50 from $95 for multiple entries within three months.
Direct flights between the two countries will also be increased. A direct flight from Shanghai to NhaTrang, a new popular travel destination, is planned to be launched at the beginning of 2016. It will only take about four hours to fly to NhaTrang from Shanghai.
Flights to Da Nang, Vietnam, from Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou already operate.
China is now Vietnam's biggest tourism host country, with one Chinese out of each five tourists to Vietnam.
More than 800,000 Chinese tourists visited Vietnam in the first half of 2015, taking more than 20 percent of the total tourists to Vietnam, according to official data of Vietnam.
Starting from Nov 13, Thailand will issue multiple entry visa to Chinese tourists with a validity period of six months.
From Nov 13, there will be two types of visas to Thailand. One type is a single entry visa with a validity period of three months, costing 230 yuan ($36), and the other is a multiple entry visa, which will cost 1,200 yuan ($190).
Malaysia has also announced plans to further relax its visa-free policies for Chinese group tourists. Starting around the Lunar New Year in 2016, Chinese tourists are expected to be exempted from visa if they are visiting the county in a group of two or more.
But an additional condition is required, which is that the tourists have to buy a tour package approved by governments of both China and Malaysia.
The details are not clear yet.
These moves come five months after Singapore – also a favorite Southeast Asian destination for Chinese tourists – began issuing multiple entry visa for Chinese tourists, allowing tourists to visit Singapore multiple times in a validity period of as long as 10 years.
Besides, if a Chinese is qualified for a multiple entry visa, his or her spouse and children younger than 21 are qualified, too.
Chinese tourists are Singapore's second-biggest market with 1.46 million visitors to Singapore in the first eight months of 2015, according to data from the Travel Bureau of Singapore.