China Convneient Visa suspended for system maintenance?

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CNIMMI

Guangdong Tourism Bureau suddenly announced an upgrade of its visa application system and suspended a 6 day Convenient Visa for foreign group visitors in Hong Kong and tour groups were refused to enter mainland China in Guangdong province. But is this the only reason?

Under the current visa policy, foreigners tourist whom visit Hong Kong can apply for a “144-hour Convenient Visa” which allows them to enter and stay in Guangdong province for 6 days through 10 ports by joining tours organised by registered a Hong Kong Travel agent.

Joseph Tung Yao-chung, executive director of the Travel Industry Council said two local travel agencies had complained that foreign tour groups organised by them were refused entry into mainland China via ports in Guangdong province.

The tour agencies were forced to replace itineraries on the mainland with sightseeing activities in Hong Kong and Macau.

Joseph Tung Yao-chung, executive director of the Travel Industry Council said two local travel agencies had complained that foreign tour groups organised by them were refused entry into mainland China via ports in Guangdong province.

The tour agencies were forced to replace itineraries on the mainland with sightseeing activities in Hong Kong and Macau.

“Guangdong Tourism Bureau told us an upgrade of its visa application system was in progress … [this involved] some network improvements,” Tung said.

“The [Guangdong authorities] had promised to resume services as soon as possible,” he added.

The visa application process is supposed to be convenient – taking just a few hours with the help of a local travel agency, as compared to applying for the visa in their home countries, which could take months.

First launched in 2000, the policy was aimed at enhancing tourism in the Pearl River Delta region, but observers say it could also become an easy way for terrorists to enter the mainland.

Media reports say the policy could have been suspended for security reasons – to prevent terrorists disguised as tourists from entering China, especially at a time when the world’s top leaders are gathering in Hangzhou for next month’s G20 summit.

A staff member at the Thai embassy in Beijing told the Post that it had also received complaints from rejected tour groups since the weekend, and the embassy was negotiating with Chinese authorities.

Malaysian Inbound Tourism Association honorary secretary general Mint Leong also confirmed with Malaysian media that the visa policy with China was temporarily suspended until further notice.

source: Hong Kong South China Morning Post

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