04 April 2013

Theresa May promises UK visa change for Chinese tourists

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The Home Secretary Theresa May has reportedly told a confidential Cabinet meeting that she intends to loosen UK visa restrictions for visiting Chinese.

UK visa

The Home Secretary Theresa May is reportedly planning on relaxing UK visa restrictions for Chinese visitors.

A vast array of concerned bodies, including retail, tourism and education, have repeatedly lobbied the coalition Government to relax UK visa restrictions to allow more Chinese people into the country.

Chinese visitors have consistently been shown to want to come to the UK, and to spend more once here. However, the lengthy application form, which is not available in Mandarin, has encouraged more Chinese visitors to travel to Europe on the single Schengen Visa.

However, after business groups warned of 'uncompetitive and burdensome' visa applications costing the British economy £1.2 billion a year, Mrs May has reportedly confirmed she will be loosening restrictions.

In a private presentation to the Cabinet, Mrs May said she would be increasing staffing at visa offices in China, expediting key applications and improving customer services.

The announcement has been received warmly by concerned bodies; Grant Hearn, chief executive of Travelodge said the announcement was 'great news'.

"WE need to showcase that the UK is open for business and this news is definitely a step in the right direction," said Mr Hearn.

"We have a real opportunity within our grasp which can play a significant part in helping our economy to recover."

However, some other concerned bodies maintained a warier approach to the home secretary's announcement; Nick Varney, chief executive of Madame Tussauds, said we need 'to judge Mrs on her actions and not her words'.

"The UK Visa system compared to Schengen is expensive and complicated, anything which doesn't address this will be just more spin," said Mr Varney.

Mr Varney's concerns were echoed by Ben Elliott, co-founder of Quintessentially Lifestyle, but added that he was 'extremely pleased' with the home secretary's announcement.

"The changes need to happen and will allow us to compete with the other international cities,” said Mr Elliott.

"But we need the home secretary to implement them ASAP."

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

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