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Big win on Chinese tourist visas

The Government has announced a series of initiatives to improve the Chinese visa application system, coinciding with the state visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping.

The initiatives include a move to make the standard visitor visa a multi-entry, two-year visa for just £85, as well as a commitment from the Prime Minister to work towards a new multi-entry 10-year visitor visa at no extra cost.

This is a major win for London First and our members, who have been campaigning hard for such changes.

These initiatives are among key recommendations of the UK China Visa Alliance (UKCVA), of which London First is a founding executive member and primary funder. The UKCVA is a body set up to explore ways to streamline the UK visa application process.

Catherine Shrimpton, Tourism Director of London First, welcomed the announcement, but added there was still more to be done.

“Chinese tourists are big spenders, so this announcement could see hundreds of millions of pounds extra brought into the UK economy each year,” she said.

“However, the Government should go further and make an affordable 10-year visa which would encourage Chinese tourists to return again and again – and we are pleased that today’s announcement includes a commitment to work towards this.

“America has already introduced a 10-year visa for China and saw a large increase in the number of visas issued to Chinese tourists, without any compromise of their border enforcement measures.”

UKCVA research estimates that the UK loses up to £1.2 billion annually because we attract far fewer Chinese tourists than our major European neighbours.

The group argues that we must remove, as much as possible, the need to apply twice to get the two visas needed (Schengen and UK) to include the UK on a European tour.

Introducing a standard and cheap, longer term, multi-visit visitor visas is a great way to achieve this. Once someone has a two or ten year visa they can use it many times whenever they visit Europe without having to make a fresh application.

The Government has also announced the expansion of its mobile biometric services. The Chinese Government has granted to the UK alone the right to have mobile biometric services so that we can process visa applications throughout China, beyond the 12 UK Visa Application Centres.

Contact: Catherine Shrimpton, cshrimpton@londonfirst.co.uk

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