The government has agreed to streamline the visa process for all Chinese visitors to the UK in an effort to cash in on the Far Eastern country’s lucrative tourist spend.
According to UK China Visa Alliance (UKCVA) the move could boost the UK economy by £1.2bn annually, with fashion retailers and brands in particular likely to benefit. High tariffs and taxes on luxury goods sold in China mean British brands such as Burberry can be up to 30% cheaper to buy in the UK.
The new system, launching this summer, will cut down on paperwork and red tape for visitors, allowing Chinese tourists to apply for visas to the UK and the rest of Europe using a single form.
Currently Chinese visitors have to go through the application process twice; once for a Schengan visa which allows them to access 26 European countries, and a second time for a UK visa.
The single form system, which was piloted last year, will also allow Chinese visitors with an Irish visa to travel to the UK without the need for a separate document.
Home secretary Theresa May said the new system would make visiting the UK easier than ever for Chinese visitors.
She added: “Having a visa system is vital to protecting Britain’s borders and we won’t relinquish control of them by joining Schengen, but I want to make sure they are as efficient as possible in welcoming tourists and business from around the world.”