The British Hospitality Association welcomes Theresa May’s announcement that the pilot scheme to make visa applications easier for Chinese visitors has been a success, and hopes the new simplified processes will have a significant impact on growing tourism and jobs in the UK.
The BHA, together with support from the UKCVA, the CBI, Institute of Directors and the British Chamber of Commerce has been proactively lobbying this issue, campaigning for swift visa reform. In addition, the BHA has been working directly with the Home Office and the UK Border Agency to identify the issues and how they impact the UK economy.
Ufi Ibrahim, Chief Executive of the British Hospitality Association said: “By 2023, China will be the largest outbound tourism economy in the world so it is important that the UK makes every effort to welcome the Chinese traveller into our country.
“We welcome the Home Secretary's confirmation that the pilot scheme allowing Chinese visitors booking with approved tour operators to complete one form for both Schengen and UK visas is to be made open to all Chinese visitors to the UK. There is more to be done to increase the UK's share of this important outbound market, but progress is being made.”
Simon Vincent, Executive Vice President and President, Europe, Middle East & Africa, Hilton Worldwide:
“China has predicted that the number of overseas trips made by Chinese travellers is set to double to 200 million in the next four years – but last year only 200,000 of these visitors came to the UK. This week’s announcement regarding greater alignment with the Schengen application process represents a step forward in helping Britain to meet the clear opportunity presented by Chinese travellers.
“We welcome the efforts being made and, following this latest news, look forward to continuing to work with Government to further promote Britain’s long term international competitiveness and in so doing, spur economic growth.”
Nick Varney, CEO of Merlin Entertainments said: “We welcome the fact that the Government has listened to the industry. This long overdue move could be an important step in improving the UK’s international tourism ‘edge’ rather than continuing to lose out to our more ‘tourism friendly’ international rivals. The Government can and should do more to stimulate tourism to make the UK a more attractive destination, especially in addressing the current very high rate of VAT in what is a price sensitive export sector.”
According to the UNWTO, China is the world's 3rd largest tourism spender. In 2012, spend by Chinese tourists abroad jumped by over 42% to a total of £6.7bn. The EU, including the UK's competitors France and Germany, welcomed more than 1 million visitors from China last year, compared to the UK's 215,000. The UK's estimated loss to competitors was £1.2bn of Chinese tourism receipts.