Posted on 10/22/2015

The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) has congratulated the British government for making changes to the visa processes for business and leisure travellers from the People’s Republic of China in acknowledgement of the tremendous potential for the UK economy.

UK Prime Minister David Cameron announced this week that the UK will be extending the validity of visas for Chinese tourists to two years - four times longer than the current six month limit of the standard visa. The government will also extend its network of Visa Application Centres across China. David Scowsill, President & CEO, WTTC, said, “I would like to commend the UK government on this great effort. Extending the period of validity of the visas and expanding the UK mobile fingerprinting service from nine Chinese cities to 50 is an important step by the government to welcome more Chinese travellers to the country. “In 2014, travel and tourism generated 10.5 percent of the UK GDP, or £187.7 ($380.2) billion, and supported 4.2 million jobs, 12.7 percent of total employment. The announced changes will help the UK to benefit from increased travel from one of the world’s fastest growing tourism markets, and thus boost its economy - specifically the retail and hospitality sectors.”

Scowsill said, “The recently announced changes are a great step in the right direction, however there are still many challenges to overcome to make the visa process even easier. WTTC analysis has shown that extending the length of stay does make a difference but does not have as impactful as a visa waiver programme. “The USA has a visa waiver programme with 38 countries. This type of programme is what WTTC ultimately would like to see between the UK and China. “A visa waiver programme between the two countries would allow Chinese and British travellers to complete visa application processes online in the comfort of their home or office, with all fingerprint and biometric controls carried out on arrival in the destination country.”