The number of Chinese tourists visiting Peru has taken a healthy bounce this year, particularly since September, when the country adopted a conditional visa waiver policy for Chinese passport holders, travel agencies said. [Special coverage on Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit to Latin America]
Bookings for package tours or independent tours to Peru on Ctrip, a leading online travel agency in China, experienced a 90 percent year-on-year increase in the first 10 months of the year. Figures for the total numbers of visitors were not immediately available.
The visa exempt policy is a big lure for Chinese tourists, particularly middle- and upper-class travelers, said Peng Liang, public relations director of Ctrip's resort and vacation department.
"In September, the number of searches for Peru-related travel packages on our website was double that of August, while bookings increased by 50 percent," Peng said.
The Peruvian government announced in September that Chinese citizens holding permanent residency certificates or visas from the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia or any state in the Schengen passport-free zone in Europe, with at least six months remaining, would be exempt from a tourist or business visitor visa when visiting Peru for up to 180 days.
That is a crucial development for Chinese tourists traveling to Peru or South America as a whole, said Ni Jiali, general manager of outbound tourism for Lvmama.com, a major online travel booking platform in China.
Ni said the continent has long been a less-popular travel destination for Chinese tourists due to the amount of time it takes to get there and high costs.
However, this has changed since a series of global events, such as the FIFA World Cup and the Olympic Games, were held in Brazil, in addition to Peru's new visa policy for Chinese citizens.
"Bookings for travel to South American countries on Lvmama.com have doubled this year compared with last year, and Peru is a now a popular destination," Ni said.
She added that Chinese tourists appear more willing than ever to spend large sums on "trip of a lifetime" vacations to South America, involving traveling to as many countries across the continent as possible during one trip. Peru, with world-class attractions such as the lost Incan city of Machu Picchu, is a prime destination.
"Trips lasting for two to three weeks and consisting of several destinations such as Brazil, Argentina, Chile and Peru have become popular," she said.
Peng also confirmed such preferences among Ctrip's customers.