Visa application system should reflect Chinese tourist trendsAugust 22, 2013
According to survey results published by Hotels.com, Chinese tourists are increasingly willing to travel independently rather than as part of a tour group and remain the highest spenders whilst abroad. The China Tourism Academy also predicts that the number of Chinese tourists aboard will reach 200m by 2020, more than double the 83m who travelled in 2012.
These findings strengthen arguments made in a recent study by the UK Chinese Visa Alliance – a group founded by London First along with New West End Company, Walpole British Luxury, Global Blue and the McArthurGlen Group to explore practical ways to achieve significant improvements in Chinese visitor numbers to the UK. It’s launch report, ‘UK: the brand of opportunity’ showed that the vast majority of Chinese visitors to Europe are discouraged by needing to apply for two visas – one for the UK and one for Schengen, the latter allowing them to visit 26 other European countries. Only one Chinese visitor in ten applies for both visas. This is estimated to cost the UK £1.2billion in lost retail sales, and this figure is set to rise to £3.1billion by 2020 when China is forecast to be the world’s largest outbound tourism market.
The new findings from Hotels.com suggest that these losses could become even larger unless appropriate improvements are made in the Chinese visa application system. Immigration Minister Mark Harper recently alluded to future initiatives that could see closer collaboration with tour operators in China. But these trends suggest the government would be better off focusing on improving the application process for individuals so that it is easier for Chinese visitors to apply for Schengen and UK visas at the same time.