Government urged to loosen visa rules for international visitors

Tourism chiefs are calling for a review of the visa rules that make it tough for international tourists to visit Britain, reports

David Scowsill, the current president and CEO of the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), believes the UK could benefit hugely from simplifying access to the nation for travellers.

The calls come after Britain placed a lowly 136th out of 139 countries in a table grading the most welcoming places to visit.

Speaking in light of the grand unveiling for the WTTC’s 2014 Economic Impact Report, Mr Scowsill claimed a “composite of issues” are hindering the UK’s competitiveness on a global scale.  

“Air Passenger Duty is the highest air tax in the world; the government has ruled out a lower VAT rate for hotels and restaurants; a lack of long-term planning in airport infrastructure; and restrictive visa policies.

“This means the UK is losing out on potential visitors to some of its European competitors, who are implementing more forward-thinking policies.”

Mr Scowsill spoke in favour of a “super-priority” visa that takes inspiration from the Schengen application currently in operation around Europe. This permits travellers to enter all of the signed-up nations with just one document, rather than a stack of separate forms.    

As reported by, 22 out of the 28 EU member states have signed up to the Schengen system, but the UK and Ireland remain opt-outs.