New Visa Centres to boost travel to Finland from China
Growth in Chinese tourism in Europe. Finland will speed up its visa services by opening Visa Centres in Beijing and Shanghai in May.
The Finnish missions in Beijing and Shanghai receive about 15,000 visa application every year. The busiest seasons are spring and summer as well as Christmas time when company representatives and tourists apply for visas to Finland.
The weekly record in the missions of Finland is over 400 applications.
Processing of visa applications in China will speed up
”The number of visa applicants to Finland keeps growing," says Visa and Passport Team Leader at Embassy of Finland in Beijing Kirsi Puronpää.
"Chinese visa applicants want to experience especially the pure nature of Finland and see where Santa Claus lives, of course".
The missions' premises have become crowded with the increase in the number of customers. The problem has been resolved by means of outsourcing.
"We have been acknowledged for our efficient and friendly service. We want to develop it in order to be able to serve a greater number of customers," says Patricia Löflund Siclait, Visa and Passport Team Leader in the Consulate General of Finland in Shanghai.
Tourists to be kept satisfied
Chinese people's travel abroad has grown dramatically. In 2014, a total of seven million Chinese tourists visited Europe and by 2020 the number is expected to rise up to 100 million.
The EU countries' marketing in China is assertive and active. Services are tailored to meet the Chinese' special needs. In order to make sure that as many Chinese people as possible who are planning on touring in Europe select Finland as their destination, all the significant elements of tourism must be in order.
”We open new Visa Centres in order to ensure that visa services will not constitute a bottleneck from Finland's part," Director General of Consular Services at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs Lauri Aaltonen says.
On the fiercely competitive Chinese markets also other measures must be taken to attract Chinese tourists to Finland.
"All relevant actors need to be active to help raise Chinese tourists' interest in Finland. Cooperation has become closer and I am confident that we will succeed in this," Ambassador of Finland to Beijing Jari Gustafsson notes.
The prospects are promising. According to statistics, the number of Chinese tourists' overnight stays in Finland in January–February 2015 grew by 33 per cent on the year before and over a 100 per cent in Lapland.
Visa Centres' tried and tested concept
The Shanghai Visa Centre will be open for visa applicants to Finland beginning on 22 May. The Visa Centre in Beijing will be opened on 25 May. The other Nordic countries are using the same Visa Centres. VFS Global, which has experience of Finnish visa application services in Russia, Ukraine and Thailand, collects the visa applications and handles appointment arrangements.
The Visa Centres in Beijing and Shanghai will be able to receive hundreds of visa applications a day. Visa applicants can also make use of other services offered at the Visa Centre, such as passport photographs, use of the internet, and the possibility to order a visa decision directly to the home address.
Inquiries: Kirsi Puronpää, Team Leader, Embassy of Finland in Beijing, tel. +86 10 85198300, email@example.com, and Patricia Löflund Siclait, Team Leader, Consulate General of Finland in Shanghai, tel. +86 21 52929900, firstname.lastname@example.org (time difference + 5 hours).