London tourist promotion group VisitLondon.com has welcomed the introduction of new visitor visas for tourists from China.
The new visas were announced by Prime Minister David Cameron this week, and will come into force in 2016. They will be valid in the UK for two years, which is four times' the usual six month limit for standard visitor visas, and there are also plans to create a new 10-year multiple entry visa for Chinese tourists.
VisitLondon.com has claimed that the new visa will bring significant economic benefits to the city, especially in light of growing numbers of Chinese tourists.
It is estimated that Chinese tourists currently contribute £500m to the UK economy, while visits from China have risen by 112% in the past five years, and 2015 figures show visits up 35% from April to June compared to the same months last year.
In his announcement, 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…It will [strengthen] UK-China relations further."
Gordon Innes, chief executive of London & Partners, which runs VisitLondon.com, said: "This is fantastic news for London and its Chinese visitors, who are already coming to the capital in record numbers and spending more than ever. London & Partners is working closely with partners across the industry to promote the capital to Chinese tourists and develop initiatives to boost numbers."
This latest change to Chinese visas to the UK comes in light of a range of changes to simplify Chinese visits to the UK in the past two years, including a streamlined 24-hour visa service, a relaxation of the application process, and a new initiative allowing more passenger flights between China and the UK.
Latest video from The Caterer