Travel work­ers turn­ing bullish

China Daily (USA) - - FOCUS | BUSINESS - By ZHU WENQIAN zhuwen­qian@chi­

The rapid growth of China’s out­bound tourism in re­cent years has given a boost to many an­cil­lary busi­nesses like visa ap­pli­ca­tion pro­cess­ing agen­cies, tourist in­for­ma­tion ser­vices, photo stu­dios, photo-copy cen­ters and cloak­rooms near em­bassies., one of the largest visa ap­pli­ca­tion agents in China, said it is bullish on the mar­ket po­ten­tial of visa ap­pli­ca­tion ser­vices as in­creas­ingly younger con­sumers are trav­el­ing abroad.

The de­mand for visa-re­lated ser­vices is grow­ing, it said.

In the first half of this year, net­ted sales rev­enues of 236 mil­lion yuan ($34 mil­lion), up 67 per­cent year-on-year. Dur­ing the same pe­riod, it said, it achieved gross prof­its of 18 mil­lion yuan, soar­ing 127 per­cent year-on-year.

“This year, we have pro­vided visa ap­pli­ca­tion ser­vices for nearly 1 mil­lion in­di­vid­u­als, and Ja­pan, South Korea as well as South­east Asian coun­tries have be­come the most pop­u­lar des­ti­na­tions, given their cheaper prices and prox­im­ity,” said Sun Chang­wei, vice-pres­i­dent of

“Ap­pli­cants need to ap­ply for their visas at dif­fer­ent con­sular dis­tricts. For ex­am­ple, those who live in He­bei prov­ince have to come to Bei­jing to ap­ply for visas. Many ap­pli­cants con­sider the prac­tice of trav­el­ing to Bei­jing and book­ing lo­cal ac­com­mo­da­tion too trou­ble­some, thus they or­der the ser­vices on­line and mail the ma­te­ri­als to us and wait to get their visas.”

The O2O (on­line-to-off­line) travel ser­vice plat­form said most of its cus­tomers are those born af­ter 1980, and are rea­son­ably versed in English lan­guage.

Visa ap­pli­cants can have their doc­u­ments and cre­den­tials ex­am­ined on­line. They can also ob­tain other con­sul­tancy ser­vices on­line. Be­sides, they can check the progress of their visa ap­pli­ca­tions on­line.

Some ap­pli­cants still pre­fer to fill up the forms and submit them to the em­bassies or con­sulates them­selves.

“I stud­ied abroad be­fore and I pre­fer to ap­ply for the visas my­self. I am aware of the po­ten­tial dan­gers in shar­ing per­sonal doc­u­ments like pass­ports with third par­ties. Risks like frauds by agents are also a fac­tor,” said Kevin Sheng, a Schen­gen visa ap­pli­cant in Bei­jing.

Such risks, how­ever, are not ram­pant among some small busi­nesses that pro­vide sim­ple ser­vices.

Wang Kai, from Hei­longjiang prov­ince and in his 50s, has been work­ing near the US em­bassy in Bei­jing for 16 years. He started a mo­bile cloak­room five years ago.

As the US em­bassy in Bei­jing does not al­low visa ap­pli­cants to bring in their bags, his mo­bile left lug­gage ser­vice has proven use­ful.

“I have made some good money from my busi­ness. Now all of my fam­ily mem­bers live in Bei­jing. With the help of my daugh­ter, I bought a house in sub­ur­ban Bei­jing, near He­bei prov­ince.” Fang Wenyu con­trib­uted to this story.

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