UK visa problems costing UK 'millions' in lost revenue

25 Jul 2013 | Posted by Carl Thomas

The British economy is missing out on millions of pounds of revenue due to problems with negotiating the UK visa system.

This is according to a report from tax-free shopping facilitator, Global Blue, which found that the country lost out on nearly 200 million euros (172.50 million pounds) of retail revenue last year alone.

Difficulties for Chinese shoppers in particular were held to blame for the missed money, with the report stating that many tourists from China opted to travel elsewhere to spend their hard-earned cash.

With a 58 per cent increase in spending among Chinese tourists, the report highlighted the extent to which the UK is missing out as the nation becomes the highest-spending travellers in the world.

The main problem with access to UK visas is the requirement for applicants to visit a British embassy, which can prove costly in both time and money. The UK's decision not to enter into the Schengen Area with with other European countries is also putting the country at a disadvantage when it comes to attracting overseas spenders.

Dai Bin, president of the China Tourism Academy, commented on the report, explaining the trend for Chinese people to head overseas for luxury goods: "Chinese tourists often prefer to shop in Europe where they can save as much as 50 per cent on luxury goods."

France was shown to be their preferred destination, with a ten per cent higher growth in Chinese visitor numbers than the UK. Germany came in second place but appears to be a recent trend with a 76 per cent in crease in Chinese visitors recorded over the year.

Russian tourists were also highlighted as a group of people that could bring financial benefit to the UK but who aren't doing so due to visa reasons. A British visitor visa for a Russian tourist, the second biggest shoppers, can take as long as two months to arrive, while a Schengen Area one can take as little as three days.