Tourist visas are twice the price that they were.  For those planning a trip to China, the Chinese Embassy in the UK more than doubled the cost of a tourist visa, providing yet, more sticker shock for British travelers heading to China and the Olympics scheduled for August in Beijing. Higher fees coincide with stricter rules about visas, too. More people are expected to use tour operator paid-for visa application service as a result.

The new fees supposedly have come about because the Chinese Embassy has begun to outsource some  administrative work associated with issuing visas.

In 2007,  the British embassy processed 180,000 applications.  When applying, you have to provide details of your outward and return flights. If staying in a hotel, you must provide details of the booking – including the dates you will be there, address, phone and fax number.

Visiting friends or relatives in China? You must provide an “invitation letter” from them, including their address, and a copy of their ID card if they are a Chinese citizen, or a work permit if they are foreign. Such new measures, high cost of travel and minimum hotel booking of up to a week all have economists doubting that Beijing may receive the economic windfall it hopes for. Some hotels in Beijing are re-thinking their strategies as they actually have rooms available during the Olympic Games.