a few extra complications for would-be visitors., never the most hassle-free of destinations to go to in the first place, has just added
Tourists now need to send off a letter of invitation (either from a pre-vetted travel firm or Chinese company/ individual), plus photocopies of round trip flight tickets and hotel reservations.
If I’m honest, China doesn’t really hold that much appeal for me. I’ve been toand Macau, and seen the hideous air quality there. The thought of more of the same in big mainland Chinese cities fills me with precisely zero enthusiasm.
So the remaining lures, that I know of, would be pandas, the Great Wall of China, the Forbidden City and that ice-sculpture festival in Harbin. I’m sure there are bits of beautiful scenery here and there, and a wealth of attractions that have not yet crossed my radar. But there are no pangs of excitement, no desperate urges and no vague whims to drop by that I may eventually act upon.
China, alas, is just one of those countries I’m not bothered about going to. I’ll happily live my life without having visited the most populous nation on earth.
There are other countries that fall in the same boat. Nicaragua, Paraguay, Zambia and Papua New Guinea don’t leap out as places I feel I absolutely must go to either. But I’m far more likely to drop by and have a look if I happen to be in the vicinity. Why? Because I don’t have to faff about sending my passport off to get a bit of paper put in it.
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I’m extraordinarily lucky to have a British passport – there are hundreds of countries around the world that I can go to without having to be parted from that little red book. Many don’t require a visa at all, others allow me to buy one on entry, and a few involve filling in some details online prior to arrival. They’re all fine – not all that much effort is required.
But the more hoops you have to leap through, the less likely you are to bother jumping through them. Such visa restrictions will not be off-putting for people who really want to go to China, but to anyone who’s indifferent, it means that China gets lumped behind 100-or-so other options. I’m not too excited about South Korea or Japan, but I’m more likely to stop in both if I travel through Asia.
Even if I really wanted to go to China, however, the idea of booking flights and hotels before I even get the visa is seriously off-putting. And to have to lock yourself in to where you’ll be staying each night? Forget it – I’ll leave China for the tour groups the country obviously wants. Anyone wishing to explore independently faces a tough task.