Backing the Tourism SectorJuly 17, 2015
Prime Minister David Cameron has launched a new report: Backing the Tourism Sector: A Five Point Plan, which seeks to encourage further growth in the tourism industry in the UK. Catherine Shrimpton, who heads our tourism policy work, comments:
“Government’s recognition of the value of tourism to the UK economy is important and timely.
“The commitment to establish an Inter-Ministerial group to coordinate action in support of the sector is very welcome. The visitor’s impression of a destination comes from their end-to-end experience yet Government decisions affecting that experience – for example, on visa services, the urgent need for additional runway capacity or the management of queues at arrival halls – sit with different Departments, each with their own priorities and pressures. This new group should make for a less siloed and more effective approach.
“On visitor visas, the Government’s plan references a “long-term, strategic approach” to make it easier for people to travel and holiday here. This is again welcome. London First has been working with Government on visa improvements, that resulted in the recent breakthrough announcement of shared European and UK visa application centres in China. But we continue to emphasise the need for a process of continuous improvement in its visa service offering. We firmly believe that, as our competitors innovate, so must we.
“For example, the US has recently boosted their tourist numbers form China by launching a 10-year visa. The UK could look to do the same – we already offer a 10-year visa but we could be using pricing to incentivise more high-value Chinese visitors to switch to this option, which would encourage repeat leisure visits and offer a cost-saving for UK Visas & Immigration.”