Campaign to relax UK visa rules for Indian shopping tourists

The “Visa-Ability Campaign” to allow more relaxed UK Visa rules comes as predictions show shoppers in Oxford Street, Bond Street and Regent Street will spend nearly touch 12 billion pounds in the next two years. Retailers say a change in rules will encourage overseas tourists to visit and shop in the West End instead of other countries.

The increased revenue is expected to be driven by international shoppers from India and China who currently enjoy favourable exchange rates.

The New West End Company, which represents 600 retailers, and the tourism agency VisitBritain have taken the campaign to UK Immigration Minister Damian Green, Tourism Minister John Penrose and Culture and Olympics Secretary Jeremy Hunt.

Jace Tyrrell, Director of Communications at New West End Company, said with the Olympic Games only two years away the issue was crucial.

"In the lead up to 2012 with international visitors reaching an all time high, our main territories for concern with the current visa restrictions are China, UAE, Russia, India, South Africa and Thailand."

"It is these key markets make up 25 per cent of our visitor numbers and significantly boost sales. In July of 2009 when visa restrictions were introduced to South Africa, visitor numbers dropped dramatically by 15 per cent, with the Olympic Games just two years away we need to ensure that we are doing everything we can to keep these international markets," he said.

The UK Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in  helping people lodging their applications for a UK Visa with the British High Commission