Music industry calls for UK visa reforms

16 May 2011 | Posted by Carl Thomas

Problems within the UK visa system need to be addressed for the sake of the music industry, it has been suggested.

In a recent report, London-based UK Music, a group which includes songwriters, managers and record companies, called for the government to address concerns regarding UK visas in order to boost the music industry's valuable contribution to the country's economy.

At the moment, tourists visiting music festivals and concerts contribute at least £864 million to the economy each year, UK Music's paper revealed.

Indeed, around 7.7 million people from overseas and within the UK attend concerts every year.

On top of the direct financial injection in to the economy, an estimated 19,700 full-time jobs in the country rely on the contribution of music tourists.

However, the UK visa system can lead to some complications for performers. The report urged the coalition to consider addressing the problems faced by overseas artists and to think about exempting small venues from certain licensing regulations.

Feargal Sharkey, chief executive of UK Music, commented: "Music provides a huge boost to UK tourism. It drives growth, it sustains thousands of jobs across all regions and enhances our lives."

Earlier this year, popular dancehall artist Vybz Kartel was denied a UK visa. This prompted a snowball effect, which saw him cancel further scheduled gigs within mainland Europe.