Chancellor George Osborne has announced that visa applications for Chinese tourists looking to visit the UK will be simplified.
Tourists from China are currently allowed to visit any member of the 'Schengen' group on a single visa, but will need to apply for a separate visa if they want to enter the UK. This Schengen group of EU nations includes Germany, France, Spain and Italy. However, under these new plans, tourists would not need to submit a separate application when booking through selected travel agents. A 24-hour 'super priority' visa service will also be introduced next summer.
This move has been hugely welcomed by hospitality organisations, considering that they have been campaigning for the issue for several years. Sandie Dawe, chief executive of tourism body VisitBritain, said that visits and spending from China had risen by 20 per cent and 25 per cent last year alone.
Ms Dawe added: “We now compete in the global race for the world’s most valuable tourism market and know there is already a huge aspiration to travel to Britain, so we want to make it easier to get here and show how welcome our Chinese visitors are. The changes made today by the chancellor underscore that message, and if trends continue, we are set to see another record year for the Chinese in 2013.”
As the number of tourists increase, especially in the capital city, this is surely good news for hospitality recruitment across the UK which, in turn, will benefit the wider economy greatly.
Grant Hearn, chief executive of Travelodge, suggested that by opening the Chinese market, the sector has a chance of hitting the $100 billion (£625.6 million) bilateral trade target by 2015, which was agreed by the UK and Chinese governments in 2012.
Berkeley Scott is a specialist recruitment agency providing hospitality employment solutions.