03 December 2012

Minister hints at UK visa relaxations

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VisitBritain, the national tourism agency, released its annual review last week and while details were scarce, there were suggestions relaxations to the UK visa system could be imminent.

UK visa

Tourism Minister Hugh Robertson has called for the UK visa regime to be addressed as a barrier to growth.

The report mainly concentrated on the success of the London Olympics combined with the Queen's Jubilee celebrations in June. However, Minister for Sports and Tourism Hugh Robertson also outlined a bold four-point plan to boost tourism next year, including relaxing UK visa restrictions.

'Making it easier to get here by addressing barrier to growth such as aviation capacity and the visa regime' was the cornerstone of the minister's plan which called for greater interaction between the tourism industry, the public sector and the Government to best realise plans.

Mr Robertson has previously been an outspoken critic of visa regulations, particularly that embassies in foreign countries were taking too long to process applications. However, the minister hinted that he hoped to have more news about reforms 'in the very near future'.

VisitBritain Chairman Christopher Rodrigues echoed the minister's calls for greater efforts to be made to attract more international tourists, claiming that Britain ranked just seventh in the world's most popular destinations in 2011.

"The US is trying to attract 100 million visitors a year by 2021," said Mr Rodrigues.

"We have to meet this challenge head on."

The UK Visa Bureau is an independent immigration consultancy specialising in helping people prepare for their UK Ancestry Visa application.

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