MANILA – China has officially reopened to foreign tourists, including Filipinos, as it resumed accepting applications for all types of visas, the Chinese Embassy in Manila said Saturday.
“The long wait is over as China finally resumes issuing all types of visas for foreigners, including the tourism visa, port visa, and multiple visa-exemption policies starting from March 15, 2023,” Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Huang Xilian said in a Facebook post.
Huang said applicants may apply for visas online through https://cova.mfa.gov.cn.
Interested travelers, he said, may also consult with the Chinese Embassy in Manila and its consulates in Cebu, Laoag, and Davao for detailed requirements and procedures.
Meanwhile, China will resume the visa-exemption policy for Hainan, visa-exemption cruise policy for Shanghai, visa-exemption policy for foreigners to visit Guangdong from Hong Kong and Macau, and visa-exemption policy for ASEAN tour groups to Guilin and Guangxi.
China fully reopened to leisure travelers three years after the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic struck and triggered the country to impose one of the world’s most severe lockdowns.
Last month, it also allowed outbound group travel for Chinese citizens to more than a dozen countries, including the Philippines, reviving hopes for the pandemic-hit tourism sector.
Philippine Ambassador to China Jaime FlorCruz said most of the visa applicants are students, tourists, and business travelers.
“(P)ara sa amin, malaking pressure, kasi kulang pa kami sa tauhan na magpo-process ng visa. Pero, ginagawa namin ang makakaya na bilisan ang proseso (For us, there's added pressure because we're short on personnel who will process the visas but we're doing our best to speed up the process),” he said in a recent interview with the China Radio International-China Media Group.
“Of course, ayaw naming makalusot iyong mga hindi magagandang may pakay sa atin. Pero, basta’t lehitimo, pinapabilisan namin ang pag-approve ng visa (Of course we're thorough, as we don’t want those with bad intentions to enter the country. But so long as the reason for the visit is legitimate, we strive to fast-track the approval of the visa).”
Before the pandemic, China was the country’s second-largest source of visitors, accounting for 1.7 million travelers in 2019. (PNA)