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Thursday, 22 October 2015 14:30

Chinese tourists to enjoy more favourable visitor visas

UK Prime Minister David Cameron announced Wednesday significant changes to visitor visas for Chinese tourists for the benefit of the British economy, Caspian Energy News (www.caspianenergy.net) reports with reference to the official website of the UK Prime Minister.

From January 2016, new visitor visas for tourists from the People’s Republic of China will be valid in the UK for 2 years – 4 times the usual 6-month limit for a standard visitor visa – bringing significant benefits to the UK economy, Prime Minister David Cameron announced. He also announced his intention to go further with plans for a new 10 year multi-entry visa for Chinese tourists at no extra cost.

The new multiple entry visitor visa arrangements being piloted for Chinese visitors will offer significantly better value in both cost and convenience as the UK mobile fingerprinting service to capture the biometrics needed for visa applications is extended from 9 Chinese cities to 50 – making it far easier to apply for a UK visa. The government is also discussing with the Chinese government the potential to expand the existing UK network of 12 Visa Application Centres – already more than any other EU country. The changes amount to a much better deal than the standard Schengen visitor visa which is limited to a maximum 90 days, and puts the UK on a par with the 2014 US offer.

Chinese tourists currently contribute £500 million annually to the UK economy with record numbers visiting the UK to make the most of all the retail opportunities and visitor attractions on offer – up 35% between April and June this year compared to the same period in 2014, according to latest figures from VisitBritain. Overall, visit visas to Chinese nationals have almost trebled over the last 5 years from 115,000 in 2009 to 336,000 in 2014, with spending increased by 326%. With every Chinese visitor spending on average £2,688 every time they visit, the extension of the visitor visa will enable them to maximise their spending power even further.

Overall inbound tourism, one of its fastest growing services, was worth more than £26 billion to the UK economy in 2013, so the benefits of increasing Chinese tourism can also be seen in job creation where, for example, every 22 additional Chinese visitors create an additional job in the sector.

Prime Minister David Cameron said: “China is becoming one of our fastest-growing tourism markets so making it easier and more convenient for Chinese visitors to come to the UK is extremely important. That is why my announcement is great news for our tourism industry and great news for the British economy enabling us to maximise Chinese spending power even further. It will mean that the UK has the best offer in Europe for Chinese tourists and will build on our already strong people to people links, strengthening UK-China relations further”.

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