Wendy Wu Tours has been granted permission to process a specialist visa for China which bypasses new entry laws to the country and avoids the need for fingerprints.
The new ‘specialist visa’ for China follows the introduction of complex fingerprint visa applications last September which have caused cancellations and complaints from clients and increased the workload for the trade during the booking process.
The new visa, which comes after government lobbying by Wendy Wu Tours, is valid where two or more holidaymakers are travelling together on the same flight in and out of five specified airports in the country. These are: Beijing; Shanghai; Chongqing; Chengdu and Kunming Changshui.
Under the new visa, there is no need to visit one of the three Chinese consulates in London, Manchester and Edinburgh and join lengthy queues to get fingerprints taken prior to travel to China.
China specialist operator Wendy Wu Tours has been authorised to provide the new visa through its China office.
UK holidaymakers will have to provide the company with a photocopy of their passport and pay a fee of around £190 for the visa and the processing. Wendy Wu will pass the details via its offices in China to local government authorities in the destination to approve before issuing the visa to clients.
Founder Wendy Wu said the move will have a positive impact for 90% of its customers travelling to China.
She said: “This visa will make a huge difference and alleviate the problems we have been having. Since the new visa came in our calls have quadrupled because people needed help to fill in forms. We had complaints from people who had to go a long way to the consulate and some wanting to cancel and go to Japan instead.
“We have received special authority and certification to process this specialist visa through our China office. This means customers can get a visa without going to a visa centre, they avoid the queues and having to give fingerprints.”
Wendy Wu will offer the new specialist visa to selected clients and agents from March 1 but roll it out to all eligible clients and agents by April 1. It will then offer the service to other agents who are not booking a holiday through Wendy Wu Tours from May 1, and to other tour operators, from June 1.
Wu said: “We are very grateful for this specialist visa; it shows the government’s willingness to listen and help, and in return we feel we should help. We are offering this service to help the market to China.
“We did a good job lobbying against the fingerprint visa; we said it would be detrimental to growing tourism in China. The government said it could not overturn the visa because it was a bilateral agreement between the UK and China but that it could offer this special policy.”
Wendy Wu Tours is also offering a special service for solo travellers who will still need to get fingerprints taken prior to travel. It has a helpline to support clients filling in their form and sends a member of staff to the consulate with the holidaymaker to complete the application.