This looks at four specific points of the visa code: language, interviews, turnaround times, and consistency. All of these are core areas of the code, and the survey is in response to requests from the authorities for feedback. At the same time, ETOA has held separate meetings alongside travel industry partners to stress to the UK government the poor perception and performance of the UK regarding visa issuance.
“At a political level, there is recognition of the importance and potential of tourism from these markets,” said Nick Greenfield, Head of Tour Operator Relations, “The number one impediment to this tourism undoubtedly remains the visa process. Schengen offers 25 countries, but there appear to be many inconsistencies in approach, while the UK has isolated itself and is surprised that countries such as Germany and France receive six and eight times as many Chinese tourists, respectively.
“Official statistics highlight approval rates, but the authorities need to know where the process falls short. The response to our in-depth survey last year was overwhelming, particularly in the Chinese and Indian markets. I would now urge anyone working in these five markets to take a few minutes to answer these four key questions and further help our work on this front.”