China eases visa application for U.S. tourists

BEIJING (Reuters) – China will simplify visa applications for tourists from the United States from Jan. 1, cutting the documents required, according to a notice on Friday on the website of the Chinese embassy in Washington.

The move is the latest by China to revive tourism and boost the world’s second-largest economy following a slump during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tourist visa applicants in the U.S. will no longer need to submit air ticket bookings, hotel reservations or an invitation letter, the embassy’s notice said. 

Beijing earlier cleared the way for passport holders from France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and Malaysia to visit the country without visas from Dec. 1.

Visa-free treatment will run for 12 months, during which tourists from those six countries can visit China for up to 15 days.

China also expanded its visa-free transit policy to 54 countries in November.

The number of inbound tourists to the country plummeted during the pandemic due to the country’s strict COVID control policies.

International flights to China have picked up since Beijing dropped COVID restrictions a year ago but are still only at 60% of 2019 levels.

(Reporting by Chinese Newsroom; Editing by Sonali Paul)