The Royal Commonwealth Society is calling for a fresh approach to the issuing of UK visas to Indian nationals, after figures showed the number of Indian tourists coming to Britain has halved in the last 10 years.
The UK’s share of the Indian visitor market dipped to around 400,000 in 2015, with many people who previously chose to travel to the UK opting for France instead. The report, which was put together with support from tourism industry and air travel groups, estimates that the UK economy has lost around £500 million a year and more than 8,000 jobs due to the falling numbers of Indian tourists.
The Royal Commonwealth Society is calling for a reduction in the cost of a UK visa for Indian visitors from the current £330 for two years and £87 for six months to £87 for two years. This would bring Indian nationals wanting to visit Britain in line with the price agreed for Chinese visitors last year.
The proposal is supported the Confederation of Indian Industry.
Its director-general, Chandrajit Banerjee, said: "This policy suggestion for a two-year UK visa for Indian nationals could provide a big boost to tourism and comes at a very opportune time as 2017 is declared the UK-India Year of Culture.
"To optimise exchanges of people, business and ideas, it is important that both the UK and Indian governments discuss this promising proposal openly and collaboratively consider delivering it. The strength of the UK-India relationship today must also reflect in a stronger visa regime."
According to the Royal Commonwealth Society, Indian tourists who visited the UK in 2015 spent almost twice as much in Britain as the average overseas visitor, and Indian business visitors spent almost three times as much as other international business visitors.