Simplified Chinese tourist visa system to boost UK economy by £1bn

09 May 2014 | Posted by Carl Thomas

The introduction of simplified UK visas for Chinese tourists visiting Britain is expected to boost the economy by around £1 billion a year by 2017, according to a report.

Analysis by Barclays calculated that Chinese tourist spending in the UK will increase by around 84 per cent over the next three years from the £549 million recorded in 2013.

The Government has taken steps to help Chinese visitors to obtain UK tourism visas more easily, as it seeks to take advantage of the higher spending power of the Chinese middle classes. By 2017, it is expected that China will be the fifth biggest tourist spender in the UK after the US, France, Germany and Australia.

Last October, Chancellor George Osborne introduced a ‘super priority’ 24-hour visa for Chinese business people seeking to do trade with the UK and also announced that Chinese visitors could apply to enter Britain using a single application form. Prior to the introduction of the ‘Schengen’ form, Chinese tourists were required to fill in a long form, have their fingerprints taken and pay high fees to enter the UK.

Barclay’s head of retail and wholesale, Richard Lowe, told the Daily Telegraph: “As George Osborne said, there should be no limit to the number of Chinese tourists who can visit.

“There’s a number of plans being put in place to allow that to happen and it’s important that those are followed through and as many Chinese visas who want visas do get them and can come and support the UK economy.”

Overall, the Barclays report predicts that spending by overseas tourists in the UK will increase by 34 per cent by 2017 to total an annual £27 billion.