British lobbying groups are urging the Government to make similar changes to UK visa processing as the US.
02 May 2012
UK visa processing to undergo American treatment
In order to boost tourism from Brazilian and Chinese tourists, ministers are being lobbied to change UK visa processing policy similar to those seen in the US.
As the Chinese and Brazilian economies continue to grow, a new demographic of tourists are looking to travel for the first time and, with the UK ranking highly on many lists of popular destinations, the British tourism industry is concerned that slow processing times for Brazilian and Chinese tourists to obtain a UK visa is impeding the industry.
While the ongoing queuing fiasco at UK borders continues to dominate the news, David Scowsill of the World Travel and Tourism Council says visa processing times are a 'much bigger deterrent' for Chinese and Brazilian visitors than the prospect of long queuing times with many Brazilians and Chinese tourists having to take days off work to secure the necessary visas.
A similar problem facing the American tourism industry was addressed earlier this year by President Obama, who gave the US State Department 60 days to reduce visa processing time and the measures taken, including adding more consulates and staff, are already being shown to work.
Now, the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) lobbying group is urging the UK Government to take similar measures to meet the increase in demand from Brazilian and Chinese tourists; as much as 80% increase in demand between 2009 and 2011 from Chinese tourists.
"President Obama now gets it, he understands the economic benefits," said Mr Scowsill, after studies showed that Chinese tourists on average spend more than any other nationality.
Studies in the US also showed that lengthy processing times discourage international visitors from travelling to certain destinations, instead picking countries such as France and Italy, whose visa processing times are drastically smaller.
"One of the things we get a lot of feedback on is having to wait a long time, or even not getting a visa quickly enough, for a key figure to attend a particular meeting," said Neil Carberry of the CBI.
Immigration Minister Damian Green appears to have listened to the demands; during a trip to China in March he agreed attempts would be made to lessen visa processing delays.
The UK Visa Bureau is an independent UK immigration consultancy specialising in helping people prepare for their UK Ancestry Visa application.