Sept 20, 04
China is being asked to explain why it doubled the prices of tourist visas for UK and US passport holders, officials in Hong Kong confirmed yesterday.
The sharp increase has pushed the price of a one-year multiple-entry visa for British citizens to more than US$250 at the official China Travel Service in Hong Kong.
Single-entry visas bought at China Travel, which charges commission on visa sales, now cost US$57 for US citizens and US$64 for UK citizens. The price for most other nationalities is US$26.
The new prices apply to Chinese visas bought anywhere in the world, although the amount of commission charged by agents varies from one place to another.
The rise in price for UK applicants came into effect in August and is believed to have been introduced to bring the cost into line with the US$64 fee Britain charges Chinese citizens for visas.
The US visa fee, which took effect four months earlier, is thought to be related to a dispute over a fee-charging call center for Chinese applicants seeking US visas.
The fee increase is being particularly keenly felt in Hong Kong, where many US and UK citizens regularly cross the Chinese border on business or for tourism.
The executive director of the British Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong described the increase as "sudden and dramatic" and said his group would to challenge it.
A spokeswoman for China Travel Services said: "The price adjustments are designed to equalize the difference that the other country is charging for our citizens to go to their country and how much their citizens pay to get a visa to come to ours."