Ten-Year Visas Approved to Promote Tourism from China

YERUSHALAYIM -

Israel has relaxed certain fees and restrictions on visitors from China to encourage the vast potential for the tourism industry.

The government has cancelled fees for tourist groups from China and multiple entry visas for up to ten years will be issued for Chinese citizens visiting Israel and for Israelis going to China. Until now, the visa was issued for just three months.

The Tourism Ministry and with the support of the Population Authority, the Finance Ministry approved the cancellation of fees for tourist groups from China.

This mutual agreement for visa extension was signed between the Chinese and Israeli governments on March 29, 2016, allows Chinese and Israeli citizens to receive a multiple-entry, ten-year tourist visa with individual visits of up to 90 days. In addition, the length of time for waiting for a visa to China will be reduced to a maximum of three days, and Chinese tourist groups will be allowed to add the names of tourists as late as the day prior to their departure for Israel.

The fee cancellation was agreed after it came to light that the payment of the 35 shekel visa fee per person traveling in an organized group to Israel, in addition to the handling fee that agents would sometimes have to pay to private operators representing them in Israel, was a significant bureaucratic and financial obstacle in organizing tourist groups from China to Israel. The loss in fees will be more than offset by the expected increase in tourists spending their money while in Israel.

Tourism to Israel from China has been on the upswing over the past few years, a trend expected to continue.

There was an increase of 43 percent in visitors in 2015 on 2014 (over 47,000) and 86 percent on 2013. This trend continued in the first half of 2016, with visitor entries from China rising 45 percent over 2015 and 82 percent over 2014. In June 2016 alone, the increase over the same month last year was 93 percent. The Tourism Ministry target for incoming tourism from China stands at 100,000 by 2018.