UKCVA’s new in depth report is launched.
Over 200 business leaders across retail, tourism, luxury and hospitality sectors attended the launch of the UK China Visa Alliance’s [UKCVA] latest report ‘Building on Progress´. Attendees were the first to hear the Home Secretary Theresa May announce new measures to make it even easier for all Chinese tourists to gain a UK visa to shop, spend and stay in the Capital and beyond.
Andrew Murphy, chairman, UK China Visa Alliance and retail director John Lewis said: “The announcement today from the Home Secretary to make it even easier for Chinese tourists to obtain a UK visa is a very welcome move, and one we firmly believe will bring increased numbers of Chinese visitors to the UK with all the accompanying economic benefits this yields. By extending the pilot of a single form to process UK and Schengen visa applications, more tour operators and individual travellers will be able to plan their trip to the UK with a minimum of hassle. We hope and expect the Government will now swiftly progress talks with European partners to unlock shared visa application centres to further harmonise and streamline the process for applying for a UK and Schengen visa.”
Home Secretary Theresa May said: “The number of Chinese people coming to Britain to visit and do business is soaring. They already enjoy a first-rate visa service and these changes will ensure it is easier than ever before to visit the UK and see first-hand everything this great country has to offer. Having a visa system is vital to protecting Britain’s borders and we won’t relinquish control of them by joining Schengen. But I want to make sure they are as efficient as possible in welcoming tourists and business people from around the world.”
The announcement from the Home Secretary is timely as the new report, sponsored by founding member London First, revealed 90% of Chinese tour groups to Europe each year are currently missing out the UK. By comparison, over 80% said their trips focused on itineraries for France and Germany. In the first research of its kind, 71% of tour operators surveyed said they would put the UK on European itineraries on the condition that the UK visa application process is simplified or indeed merged with the Schengen visa. Whilst the series of improvements announced last night are a major step forward in our campaign, we look forward to receiving details of the immediacy and forthcoming timeline for implementation.
Summary of the announcement from the Home Office: