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Drop in Chinese tourists shows urgent need for visa reform

Visit Britain’s monthly inbound tourist figures have shown a 7% drop in Chinese visitors to the UK in the 2014 compared to 2013.

Catherine Shrimpton, head of tourism at business group London First, said the UK could miss out on billions from Chinese visitors alone if the visa system was not improved.

“We welcome Government commitments to improve the visa system and make it easier for people to visit the UK both for leisure and business.

“But, as these figures show, we need to go further and faster in our efforts to  improve and streamline UK visa services.

“One change that could make a big difference would be if applicants could apply for both a UK and European Schengen visa at the same time and in the same place, meaning they don’t have to visit two separate centres.”

Figures released last year by the UK Chinese Visa Alliance (of which London First is a primary funder) found that:

  • UK could be set for an additional £1.2bn in Chinese spend per year if visa restrictions were loosened, with these visitors currently spending on average £741 per transaction in UK shops.
  • The report reveals 90% of Chinese tour groups to Europe missing out the UK each year
  • Chinese consider UK 2nd hardest country to gain a visa to behind the usa
  • 71% of Chinese tour operators would put UK on European itineraries if visa application process were simplified or merged with the Schengen visa

Read more about our work on visa reform

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