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Government urged to solve Chinese visa headache

Almost 1,000 businesses have called for the Government to “make significant strides” in a reform to Chinese visa processing.

The UK China Visa Alliance yesterday published a report highlighting the extent to which the UK misses out on spend from the region as a result of the current complex system.

Only 1.3% of the total global Chinese visitor spend is made in the UK, suggesting there is a vast opportunity for growth, the report stated.

In 2011 one million Schengen visas, which enable Chinese tourists to visit 26 European countries, were issued, while just 205,000 UK visas were.

The UKCVA argued that if we equalled France in attracting Chinese visitors, the country would earn an additional £1.2bn annually and create a further 24,000 jobs.

As a result the alliance, which represents more than 950 British retail and tourism businesses, has stressed the Government’s tourism growth strategy must include reforms to the visa system.

The report was unveiled at its first ‘Welcome China’ event, which was attended by immigration minister Mark Harper.

Gieves & Hawkes chairman Mark Henderson, who chaired the event said: “The very fact that the minister came to talk to businesses today demonstrates the importance the Government is placing on finding practical solutions on issues surrounding UK Chinese visas.”

He added: “What is needed now is for the Government to make significant strides, as marginal improvements will have only marginal impact. We need to find ways of enabling Chinese visitors and their tour operators to apply for both visas in one go, while maintaining separate processing.”

Harper said: “China is a priority market for the UK. We have already made a number of improvements to the service we offer to legitimate Chinese visitors and we will continue to work with the UK China Visa Alliance to make our offer even better.”

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