Concern over ease of access to UK visas has been causing ripples once again as the Chinese have been confirmed as the world's biggest spenders on travel by recent studies.
According to the Hotels.com Chinese International Travel Monitor (CITM) 2013, the country has now overtaken Germany and the US as the biggest spender on travel in the world. In fact, the Chinese spent a total of $102 billion on international travel last year, a 40 per cent increase on 2011.
The increase in expenditure once again brings up the matter of ease of access to UK visas. The Chinese are rapidly becoming one of the most valuable markets, yet Britain is risking losing out on their business due to its complicated visa application process.
Johan Svanstrom, managing director of Hotels.com's Asia Pacific division, commented: “The 2013 Chinese International Travel Monitor (CITM) shows the move to independent travel identified in the CITM last year is now preferred by the majority of Chinese travellers. While in-roads have been made in this area, governments will have to take this into account when organising their visa application infrastructure and processes.”
The problem is exacerbated by the increase in Chinese travellers booking visits independently of tour operators. In fact, two-thirds of travellers now opt for this route, according to Hotels.com. This means that they are required to organise their own visas and many are opting for the simpler Schengen visa, which allows access to 26 European countries, of which the UK has opted not to be one.
The research found that visas weren't the only issue for Chinese visitors, however. One of the main issues, cited by 75 per cent of those surveyed, was the provision of translated items in hotels, which those questioned said needed to be improved. Nonetheless, research is repeatedly suggesting that the UK needs to work on its visa system to encourage new markets to visit and work in its economic centres.