There are fresh calls for the Government to simplify the system for issuing UK visas to Chinese nationals, as part of efforts to boost the economy.
The UK China Visa Alliance (UKCVA) wants the Government to provide 10-year visas to Chinese tourists for £135 rather than the current £737. The group, made up of London retailers such as the New West End Company, plus Worldpay and London First, claims this would attract around 265,000 more Chinese tourists to the UK. It believes their spending on tourism, leisure and shopping will add an estimated £337 million to the British economy.
The most common UK visa for Chinese visitors is a six-month option, which costs £85 but has an added £135 processing fee. Almost 400,000 Chinese visitors opt for these annually. A 10-year UK visa costs £737.
The UKCVA wants the UK to follow the lead of the US, which saw Chinese visitor numbers jump by almost 70 per cent within the first two months of the introduction of a cheaper 10-year visa.
John Dickie, of London First, said the changes would be a “win-win” situation for the Government.
He told City AM: “Not only would they give us a bigger share of the world’s largest tourist market, they would encourage these lucrative visitors to come back again and again.
“It would be another step in the right direction for a Government that is building a good record in this area, as demonstrated by its efforts to streamline the UK and Schengen visas process.”
The UKCVA said that Chinese visitors were put off applying for a 10-year visa because of the high price, especially if they also want to visit mainland European countries on a Schengen visa.
Figures from August show that Chinese visitors to London each spend an average £838 when they visited Oxford Street.