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Visa applications to be relaxed for Chinese visitors

14 October 2013
Visa applications to be relaxed for Chinese visitors

A new simplified visa application process is to be introduced to help make the process of travel to the UK easier for Chinese visitors.

Speaking during a trade mission in Beijing today, the Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne announced improvements to the visa application process, which will cut down on paperwork for Chinese visitors to the EU and UK.

Chinese nationals wanting to visit countries in mainland Europe and the UK will no longer need to submit a separate UK visa application when they book with selected Chinese travel agents.

A new 24-hour super priority visa service is also to be made available from summer next year, while the VIP mobile visa service, already operating in Beijing and Shanghai, is to be expanded to other locations.

China is one of the UK's priority markets for tourism and business. In 2012, 210,000 visas were issued to visiting Chinese nationals, who spent £300m while visiting the UK.

Theresa May, the Home Secretary, said: "Our Chinese visa system already provides an excellent service and figures demonstrate that Chinese tourists are increasingly choosing to visit the UK. We will continue to make further improvements wherever possible for visitors travelling independently or as part of a group."

Sandie Dawe, chief executive of VisitBritain, welcomed the Chancellor's announcement, which she believes will help in the global race for the world's most valuable tourism market. "Tourism is a key industry for Britain in China," she said.

"Last year witnessed a record jump of 20% in visits and 25% in spend. We know there is already a huge aspiration to travel to Britain, so we want to make it easier to get here and show how welcome our Chinese visitors are.

"The changes made today by the Chancellor underscore that message, and if trends continue, we are set to see another record year for the Chinese in 2013."

Grant Hearn, chief executive of Travelodge, said the new visa application process for the Chinese is "great news" for both the UK economy and the tourism industry.

"We can now clearly showcase to the Chinese market that the UK is open for business, and we have a great chance of reaching the $100b (£62.5b) bilateral trade target by 2015, which was agreed between the UK and Chinese Government last year.

"Today's announcement will also certainly boost the job market, which is much needed to help get the economy back on track.

"However to really unleash the true potential of this growing tourist market, the Government needs to extend its policy to all Chinese tourists and not the selected few."

Home Secretary Theresa May promises ‘faster service' on visas for Chinese visitors >>

Boost in spending by Chinese visitors to UK >>

BHA welcomes home office pledge to improve visa service for Chinese tourists >>

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