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Regionwide tourism remains a priority

2014-11-12 14:32 China Daily Web Editor: Si Huan

APEC will continue to promote integration of its tourism market by encouraging member economies to ease visa restrictions for tourists and launch programs to expedite the immigration process, according to the APEC Connectivity Blueprint for 2015-25.[Special coverage]

The blueprint also states that the economies will make efforts to achieve 800 million APEC tourist arrivals by 2025 and commit to establishing an APEC-wide Code of Conduct for Travel Providers, to reduce tourists' costs and uncertainties.

During the APEC Leaders' Week, progress has been made on easing visa restrictions for Chinese travelers.

Speaking in Beijing at the CEO Summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum on Monday, US President Barack Obama said the United States hopes to welcome a growing number of eligible Chinese travelers, who will inject billions of dollars into the US economy and create enough demand to support hundreds of thousands of additional US jobs. Under the new visa agreement, Chinese and US citizens will be able to obtain business and tourist visas valid for 10 years, up from one year currently. Student and cultural exchange visas will be valid for five years rather than just one, Obama said.

China and Canada published on Sunday a document that lists the series of agreements signed by the two countries during Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper's China visit this week, including ones on visa applications.

Vice-Premier Wang Yang said in a speech on Sept 13 that China has shown its intent on this issue by encouraging its citizens and companies to visit and invest in the construction of tourism infrastructure in the APEC region and support member economies to promote tourism on the Chinese mainland.

Wang said that only by working together with other member economies can APEC achieve the expected goal of having more than 800 million international visitors within the region in 2025.

Zhang Guangrui, honorary director of the Tourism Research Center at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said visa barriers are the first to go when talking about people-to-people connectivity, and the trend of easing visa restrictions on Chinese citizens will continue.

Zhang also said the APEC-wide Code of Conduct for Travel Providers shows the governments' commitment to regulating the industry and protecting cross-border travelers' interests.

"However, we cannot count on an APEC-wide code to solve everything. All economies should introduce more specific regulations within their territories to regulate the travel service providers," he said.

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