Government urged to streamline Chinese access to UK visas

20 Jan 2014 | Posted by Carl Thomas

The lack of a streamlined UK visa service for wealthy Chinese visitors and other big spenders could be having a negative impact on big businesses in Britain.

Business leaders and politicians in the UK are particularly concerned about the news that France is due to introduce a fast-track visa processing system that will give some people access to the country in just 48 hours.

French foreign minister Laurent Fabius said that he expects the new regime to “massively increase” the number of Chinese tourists in particular that visit Paris and other regions of France. Shanghai-based Ye Xin, welcomed the news stating: “For us, the faster, the better.”

The French system change has been introduced to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the introduction of diplomatic ties between France's Charles de Gaulle government and Mao's Communist regime in 1964.

The news of the change in the French system comes as data from Bain & Co has suggested that the British luxury industry is missing out on big bucks by not making it easier for Chinese tourists to access UK visas.

According to the report, Chinese shoppers account for a third of the world's luxury sales but the fact that the UK continues to opt out of the Schengen agreement means that less than ten per cent of Chinese visitors opt to come to the UK and other European countries together.

Given that Chinese shoppers spend nearly three times as much as other overseas visitors when they do make the trip to London's West End, it might be well worth the UK government investing in ways of simplifying the immigration process for visitors.

Andrew Murphy, chairman of the UK China Visa Alliance, suggested that streamlining the visa process could “boost the economy by £1.2 billion and create 24,000 jobs”.