China’s biggest travel agency has warned that a “complicated and expensive visa system” is causing Britain to lose business “every minute”, reports telegraph.co.uk.
Yu Ning Ning, president of China International Travel Service (CITS), says her group opts against taking crowds of Chinese tourists over to Britain because it is much easier for them to go into other parts of Europe, where the Schengen visa is accepted.
This document covers 26 European countries who have ditched their own passport controls in favour of the widely-accepted system. According to Ms Yu, Chinese tourists want to visit at least two countries during their time in Europe, but only 10,000 of her 3.23 million customer base make it over to the UK.
In 2012, Britain welcomed just 179,000 Chinese tourists, the lowest number achieved across the world.
Cited by dailymail.co.uk, she explained: “The UK is not a cheap visa, it’s a more expensive visa. If I want to send 1,000 people, I have to send buses (to a visa processing centre).
“This is really causing problems. Every minute you are losing business.”
Recent data shows Chinese travellers spending £65 billion per year while abroad, meaning British companies could be missing out on millions of pounds worth of business.
Furthermore, this is just the total from holidaymakers; the money gained from business tourists, which could be spent on event venues or nights in hotels, may boost the total even further.
Ms Yu went on to claim that recent improvements to the current visa system have done little to tempt major tour companies into recommending Britain as a holiday destination. These include a version of the online application forms in Chinese and a VIP service for gathering fingerprints, which sees Home Office officials visiting people’s homes to collect their impressions for a small fee.