Improvements to the visa application process for foreign tourists wanting to visit the UK should help boost overseas visitors, Tourism Minister John Penrose has told Caterer and Hotelkeeper.
"I was very surprised and astounded that until fairly recently the explanation for filling in visa forms was only available in English - which did not present a very welcoming message to visitors. However, the information is now available in six languages, something which is a basic, but very important step."
It is hoped that the availability of guidance notes for visitor visa applications in Arabic, Chinese (simplified), Hindi, Russian, Thai and Turkish will benefit the UK's inbound tourist industry.
Penrose said that other areas of improvement to the visa application process included the ability for foreign tourists to apply for visas online and an increase in the number of locations worldwide where biometric data required for visa applications could be collected.
Penrose was speaking on the anniversary of the launch of the Government's tourism strategy, which he said had already achieved results, although he added that there was more to be achieved in what is a four-year programme.
"We have made huge strides in the marketing of the UK, both to overseas and domestic tourists, but it is still very early days and now we have to see how it plays out in the next few months in terms of heads in beds and bums on seats.
By Janet Harmer
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