UKinbound is urging Government to make its two-year reduced cost multi-entry Chinese visa pilot into a permanent scheme when it ends in January 2018.
We surveyed our tour operator members to find out what impact the Chinese visa pilot has on our their businesses to date and launched the results during Golden Week in October. 96% of respondents were aware of the visa pilot, and 85% stated that bookings from China have increased since it was introduced.
In 2016, the number of visitor visas issued in China to the UK increased by 20% compared with 2015, to over 480,000. Chinese visitors also spent over £513 million in the UK last year. However, when asked how Government could improve its current visa system for Chinese visitors (thereby attracting more to the UK), 73% of respondents stated multi-entry to the UK over longer periods of time, for the same cost of £85. One-stop shop visa application centres and application forms in Chinese languages were also identified as improvements that could be made.
Chief Executive Deirdre Wells OBE commented, “We’re excited to once again welcome Chinese tourists to the UK during Golden Week and it’s encouraging to hear that the Government’s two-year Chinese visa pilot has resulted in increased Chinese visitors for our tour operator members.
“It’s imperative that this trend continues and that the UK continues to signal to China that we are a welcoming and accessible destination. We urge the Government to confirm that the pilot scheme will be a permanent fixture from 2018 and to also extend the length of the visa to 10 years, which will encourage visitors to make more repeat visits to the UK.”
Brian Bickell, Chief Executive of Shaftesbury Plc and Chairman of the UK China Visitor Alliance said, “The significant increase in Chinese visitor numbers shows the benefits of Government and the private sector working together to create innovative changes to the visa application process.
“In particular our ‘one-stop shop’ principle to apply for both a UK and Schengen visa at the same time – leading to shared application forms, shared visa application centres and longer term visas as standard – is showing great results. We now want to build on these successes, both through implementing the 10 year visa commitment and exploring new partnership ideas with key Schengen members.”