Schengen visa’s biometric requirements expected to hamper flow of Chinese tourists
Schengen zone's biometric visa applications might cause Chinese visitor arrivals to those regions to plummet, according to officials.
Switzerland Tourism Bureau chief Jürg Schmid recently said the biometric information collection procedures introduced to visa applications to Schengen countries might cause Chinese visitor arrivals to those regions to plummet.
Switzerland Tourism Bureau’s spokesperson Veronique Carnell elaborated on March 5 that the new visa application rules are more complicated as visa applicants must personally go to the Swiss Consulate in Beijing, Shanghai or Guangzhou to undergo fingerprinting as part of the new biometric information collection procedures for Chinese applying for a Swiss visa, instead of sending in applications by mail or through travel agents as per current practice.
As more than half of the Chinese visitors to Switzerland are not from the Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou areas, Carnell said the bureau is concerned that the new visa application procedures will reduce the number of Chinese tourists visiting Switzerland. She said the effect of the new policy cannot be ignored as tourism is a key industry in Switzerland, and China is its fifth largest overseas market after Germany, the US, Britain and France.
In June 2014, the European Commission in Brussels announced plans to establish a global visa information system in 2015 to facilitate the integrated visa information management among EU member states. The system requires Schengen visa applicants to submit fingerprints at the destination country’s consulates or visa centers. The system is expected to be officially operational in May this year in China.(Translation by David)