Osborne says UK visas will be simplified to attract more Chinese visitors to Britain

Chinese nationals visiting the EU will not need to submit separate visa applications for Britain, if they book with selected travel agents.  Currently, Chinese visitors can apply for a single visa to visit much of Europe, but a separate one is required to travel to the UK. Chancellor George Osborne made the announcement during a week long trade visit to China, where a Chinese firm was announced as a substantial investor in Britain’s first Airport City in Manchester. It is thought that extra paperwork and cost of UK visas is deterring many Chinese visitors from including the UK in a trip to Europe – where one cheaper visa covers the Schengen area. A mobile visa scheme which already operates in Beijing and Shanghai will be expanded where officials go out to the applicants to collect their paperwork and biometric data. According to the government, last year 210,000 visas were issue to Chinese nationals and they contributed around £300m to the economy.
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Visa rules for Chinese coming to the UK to be relaxed

George Osborne: “We are two great trading nations, with a shared interest in keeping the trade routes of the world open and free”

14.10.2013 (BBC0

Visa applications for Chinese visitors entering the UK will be simplified, Chancellor George Osborne has announced during his trade trip to China.

Under the plan, Chinese nationals visiting the EU will not need to submit separate UK visa applications if they book with selected travel agents.

Mr Osborne is trying to persuade more Chinese companies to invest in the UK.

But he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that his trip was also about changing British attitudes to China.

“Many people think of China as a sweat shop on the Pearl River. Yet it is at the forefront of medicine, computing and technology. It’s a very rapidly changing country.”

Earlier, Mr Osborne told an audience of students that his visit was about “much more than a collection of business deals”.

“What I really want it to be about is strengthening the understanding between our two nations, deepening our friendship, working out where by working together we can improve the lives of all our citizens,” he said in a speech to university students in Beijing.

“Yes, of course, we have differences, different political systems, we attach value to different things, and we shouldn’t be afraid of pointing out where we disagree.

“But let us not do it in a way that is not respectful of each other and tries to understand each other, and let us try to overcome our differences and work together in peaceful co-operation.

“Because ultimately we want the same thing – a better life for our citizens.”

Adam Marshall, director of policy at business lobby group the British Chambers of Commerce, said UK businesses would “breathe a collective sigh of relief” at the plans to simplify Chinese visa applications.

“For too long, Britain has courted Chinese investment and tourism without facilitating the entry of Chinese visitors with the same vigour. A responsive visa system is crucial to demonstrating that the UK is open to trade and investment,” he added.

Mobile visa scheme

During his week-long trip, Mr Osborne has already unveiled a deal in which a Chinese firm took a 20% stake in a new business park in Manchester.

And on Sunday came details of the visa changes.

Currently, Chinese visitors can apply for a single visa to visit much of Europe but a separate one is required to travel to the UK.

It is thought that the extra paperwork is deterring many Chinese visitors from including the UK in a trip to Europe.

A mobile visa scheme that already operates in Beijing and Shanghai will be expanded as part of the changes.

Under the mobile service, which was first tested by executives at Wanda, the company that bought Sunseeker yachts, officials go out to applicants to collect their paperwork and biometric data.

The process can take less than five minutes.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-24512781

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Earlier:

Bureaucratic UK visa regime harming trade with China, says Willie Walsh

23.9.2013The issue of whether or not the  UK has enough flights to China, and the other rapidly developing economies, is the argument most often used to call for a new runway for the south east of England, and at Heathrow in particular. Even at Heathrow, business passengers are only some 30% of the total. Willie Walsh has spoken out again against the UK visa system for Chinese visitors, which is much more costly and more onerous than obtaining a visa for the European Schengen agreement countries. A UK visa for a Chinese person for the UK costs £80 but only £56 for the Schengen area.  Willie says trade with China has been harmed by the UK visa regime that makes foreign businessmen and visitors feel unwelcome.  He was speaking on the inaugural flight of BA’s direct service to Chengdu, capital of Sichuan province, and said the UK needs to put a bit of effort into changing Chinese perceptions they are not welcome.  UK APD adds £83 to the cost of an economy flight to China, and visa fees are a real deterrent – much more than a shortage of slots at Heathrow at popular times of day.  Walsh said at other European hubs visas for transfer passengers are not required.http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/?p=17541.

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Airports want easier Chinese visas for the UK as Chinese spend so much at the airport

22.2.2013Airport owners and retailers claim Chinese tour operators are “striking Britain from their itineraries” because of the UK’s “cumbersome” visa system, which is costing the UK economy £1.2bn in lost tourist revenue. (They are not blaming APD). The Airport Operators Association and the UK Travel Retail Forum have written to 4 cabinet ministers, including George Osborne and Theresa May, outlining the problem. Airport operators and retailers say Chinese visitors spend 9 times the amount of US visitors passing through duty free.  The airports etc want the Government to simplify the UK’s visa regime because at present, Chinese visitors view the UK’s visa system as “expensive, bureaucratic and lacking in transparency”, and it is easier to visit  Europe (which can be done on just one visa, which is cheaper than the UK visa). Currently, Chinese nationals wishing to visit Britain on holiday have to get their fingerprints taken at one of 12 authorities in China. They also have to fill out a lengthy application form and pay more than if they were to visit the Schengen area of 26 European countries. http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/?p=570

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Visa red tape and cost are putting off Chinese visitors – not APD or a lack of runways

17.8.2012

Britain wants more Chinese tourists, as they are high spenders.  However, it may be that getting a visa to the UK is more difficult and more expensive than a visa for Europe (one for the whole EU zone) and so they go there instead of getting a second visa, for the UK. Although the figures are disputed, at least 25-50% (or more) more Chinese tourists are believed to visit France than Britain.  A UK visitor visa requires lengthy forms with original supporting documents and costs £78, compared with the €60 (£47.60) that buys access to the whole European Schengen zone. The UK visa also requires biometric data, which involves applications in person, although Europe will follow suit next year. IAG has joined in the complaints about the UK visa system, saying it is bad for business and deters Chinese businessmen. Much of the power lies in the hands of Chinese travel agents and middlemen who arrange visits abroad and have considerable influence on visa applications. So the lack of Chinese tourists is nothing to do with needing more runways, or needing to cut APD. More to do with the visa process.

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Information about the Schengen Visa  Zone:

 http://www.schengenvisainfo.com/  and

 http://www.schengenvisainfo.com/schengen-visa-countries-list/.


 

 

 

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schengen_Area

The Schengen Area is a group of 26 European countries that have abolished passport and immigration controls at their common borders. It functions as a single country for international travel purposes, with a common visa policy. The Area is named after the village of Schengen in Luxembourg where the Schengen Agreement, which led to the Area’s creation, was signed. Joining Schengen entails eliminating internal border controls with the other Schengen members, while simultaneously strengthening external border controls with non-Schengen states.