07 November 2012

Minister plans UK visa simplification for Chinese tourists

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Culture Secretary Maria Miller is reportedly planning new ways of giving Chinese tourists easier access to the UK visa system.

UK visa

Culture Secretary Maria Miller is reportedly taking steps to remove obstacles from the UK visa application process for Chinese tourists.

Newly wealthy Chinese tourists travelling abroad for the first time have consistently been shown to spend more on average on holiday than any other nationality but both tourism industry bodies and airline industry bodies have complained about onerous UK visa requirements preventing Chinese tourists from visiting the UK.

The UK - and particularly London - ranks highly as an ideal destination for many Chinese tourists but eight times as many currently visit France than the UK - a trend being blame on the UK visa application process.

The UK visa application is 26 pages long and many sections are only available in English, in comparison, the Schengen Visa which Chinese tourists need to visit France is just eight pages long and allows the holder to visit 25 other European countries as part of the Schengen Arrangement.

However, it is understood that the Government has listened to the complaints of the tourism and retail industries and is looking at ways to allow more Chinese tourists to visit, in a move which could bring £1.2 billion to a struggling British economy.

Ms Miller has reportedly opened discussions with the Home Office to look at a possible dual processing system which would allow Chinese tourists to submit their UK visa application alongside their Schengen visa application.

Ms Miller said the Government is working to 'reduce any perceived barriers to tourism' during a speech tourism chiefs this week while another Whitehall sources said there is 'renewed vigour' towards attracting more Chinese tourists.

Marissa Murdock, casework manager at the UK Visa Bureau, says the changes have been due for a long time.

"The UK is only now emerging from one of the worst economic situations in decades. Meanwhile, the only country in the world to strengthen during the global financial crisis has literally millions of potential tourists with money to spend," said Ms Murdock.

"To make it as hard as possible for these people to come to the UK borders on self-sabotage, so any move to simplify travel visa policy would be more than welcome."

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

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