Visa rules are stalling UK inbound tourism

The UK government is hindering the growth of UK inbound tourist market because of the additional cost and inconvenience of applying for a UK tourist visa, compared with competitors destinations, according to UK Inbound, the trade organisation which represents the inbound tourism industry in the UK.Its ‘Business Barometer’ report for April 2008 reported a small increase in both visitor numbers and forward bookings but says the trend of recent months continues with trading conditions remaining difficult for all inbound tourism. In each of the last four months it has seen modest increases in visitors from short-haul destinations and larger drops in long-haul business particularly from countries whose citizens require visas.

The report also says the UK tourism trade deficit has grown dramatically in recent years; reaching £20Bn in 2007 and looks set to continue to grow.

It says : “This deficit can only be reduced in two ways; either UK citizens take fewer trips abroad, and there seems no realistic prospect of this, or we increase our export tourism revenues. At market conditions continue to become tougher this will be impossible without a radical new approach by central Government; the realisation at the Home Office that tourism is different to migration; an understanding at the Treasury that a reduced tax burden for tourists will actually generate more tax revenue and an appreciation across the whole of Government of the value and importance of inbound tourism to the UK economy.”