[19 July 2013, London] Andrew Murphy, retail director at John Lewis, has today been announced as the chairman of the UK China Visa Alliance. The UKCVA represents more than 950 British businesses and campaigns for a streamlined tourist visa process in order to significantly increase the number of Chinese visitors to the UK.
The UKCVA, which was founded by New West End Company, London First, Walpole British Luxury, Global Blue and the McArthurGlen Group, has been looking at practical ways of achieving meaningful improvements to Chinese visitor numbers to the UK. The UKCVA’s analysis shows that only around 7 per cent, or 200,000, of Chinese visitors to Europe choose to get the two visas required to visit the UK as well the 26 countries covered by the Schengen Agreement. This hurdle caps the potential spend by these travellers at 1.3 per cent of the total global Chinese visitor spend.
Last year, shoppers from China became one of the most important inbound tourism markets in the UK. Chinese shoppers are one of the most important international customers for John Lewis with tax-free spend for the department store retailer up 54 per cent in 2012 with strong double-digit growth demonstrated to date this year, according to Global Blue. Streamlining the UK visa system would increase the volume of inbound Chinese tourism and spend in the UK.
With board responsibility for the operation, performance & profitability of John Lewis’s 39 shops as well as the overall responsibility for development and delivery of customer service at John Lewis, Murphy also leads on omnichannel development, and new shop development. Murphy will bring a strategic outlook to the campaign, and build on the substantial progress made so far by the founding partners and members of the Alliance.
Andrew Murphy, Chairman of the UKCVA and retail director at John Lewis, says; “The Chinese consumer is by far the largest spender among overseas visitors to the UK, and that spend is a vital area of growth if we are to remain globally competitive as a visitor destination. Whilst incremental steps have been taken, the UKCVA believes more must be done by the Government to ensure that the UK attracts its fair share of Chinese visitors, levelling the playing field with other European countries. I look forward to working with the Alliance to ensure the Government makes these vital changes.”
Since forming in July 2012, the UKCVA has been in discussion with the Home Office about enabling both Schengen country and UK visas to be applied for in China at a “single drop off point”. This would reduce the inconvenience for tour operators, the so-called ‘FIT’, high net worth and business travellers or those visiting family and friends who currently have to attend separate visa data processing centres (which can be up to three hours travel away). A single drop off point would also incentivise Chinese visitors to include the UK in their European itineraries.
New West End Company
Walpole British Luxury
International Airlines Group The Cadogan Estate
European Tour Operators Association Westfield
British Hospitality Association BAA Airports Ltd
Heart of London Business Alliance Capital & Counties
International Airlines Group
 Definition: Foreign Independent Traveller – travel alone or in a small group, but importantly not through a group travel operator.