‌Visa-free entry to China fuels optimism for Hungarian travel agents

Viktor Vereb, Hungary's Manager of Hiseas travel agency, said they are optimistic about the new initiative and have already received travel inquiries, "We are working together with some significant tourism stakeholders to introduce them to some lesser-known Chinese destinations," he told CGTN Europe.

Hungary is one of six other European countries whose citizens will no longer be required to apply for a Chinese visa when they travel for tourism or business purposes.

Before the pandemic, the European Union and China launched an initiative to promote travel, but it mainly benefited Europe, according to travel experts. 

"The first time I traveled there was 15 years ago, and since then, there have been many times where I've been to the Chinese consulate to apply for a Chinese visa," said Vereb, "it's a complicated process."

Vereb says that eliminating the visa requirement could increase Hungarian travel to China. Hungary's government says nearly 100,000 Chinese tourists visited the country last year. There are 13 weekly flights between Budapest and four Chinese cities, which could further facilitate travel between the two countries and boost the number of Hungarians visiting China.

The initiative could also help with EU-China relations according to some analysts.

"We will see if this measure will be permanent or just for the summertime," said Tamas Matura, a China-Hungary relations expert. "Generally speaking, it's a way for the Chinese side to improve relations with the EU and its member states."The new visa-free travel scheme will start on March 14 and last until November 30. Hungarian nationals, under the new scheme, will be able to travel to China visa-free for up to 15 days. According to Vereb, over the past couple of years, his company has been consulting with Chinese regional tourism authorities who are interested in promoting their destinations in the Hungarian travel market.

Hungary's government, meanwhile, views this visa-free initiative as an opportunity to bring people from both countries closer together, it said it will not only foster tourism but also enhance the cultural and economic ties between Hungary and China in the long run.

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