The British Hospitality Association has warmly welcomed news today that the Government will start a pilot with Belgium designed to make it easier for Chinese visitors to visit the UK. Starting on 1 July, this pilot will enable a Chinese person to visit UK visa application centres in Beijing, Guangzhou and Shanghai and apply for both a UK and Schengen visa at the same time.
The BHA, on behalf of its members and as part of the UK China Visa Alliance, has been campaigning vigorously to improve access for Chinese visitors. In addition, it has been working directly with the Home Office and the UK Border Agency to identify the issues and how they impact the UK economy. The UK looses out on an estimated £1.2 billion per annum because we attract far fewer Chinese tourists than our major European neighbours.
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.
“The Government’s decision to streamline the visa application process for Chinese visitors with Schengen is a long-awaited victory for common sense, our economy and the hospitality and tourism industry. The BHA with its partners in the UKCVA has for many years has called on the Home Office to create a shared visa application centre for UK and Schengen visas – a one stop shop - to simplify administration and make the UK an accessible destination. There could be no better time to implement this change as recent ONS data showed a 17% drop in 2014 of Chinese business travellers compared to 2013. Today’s announcement is another step in the right direction to drive growth and jobs at a crucial time in the UK’s recovery.”