Following the decision of the Home Secretary, Theresa May, to introduce a joint visa system for the UK and other European nations in order to attract more tourists from China, Travelzoo’s CEO for the Asia Pacific region, Mr Jason Yap feels that there are further steps to be taken to increase tourism.
Earlier this year in London, Mr Yap met with chiefs from the country’s inbound tourism industry, including UKinbound chief executive Mary Rance, to discuss the Chinese market and how to increase visitor numbers.
“The news that the UK will seek to streamline the visa process for Chinese visitors by introducing a joint visa application process is great news indeed. Chinese visitors typically do a multi-country tour of Europe and the ‘must do’ destinations have long been France, Italy and Switzerland known as ‘the fa-ee-ray tour’.” Explains Yap.
“The UK has been off the hit list for some time now. This has been due to a number of factors, but there is no doubt that the simplicity of the Schengen visa for the rest of Europe has had a big impact. It will take some time to break down the tradition of the ‘fa-ee-ray’ and to lure visitors across the Channel.
“Once the new initiative kicks in, the UK needs to do some strategic profile-raising of its many attractive assets – in particular the educational heritage of places such as Oxford, Cambridge and Eton, which hold huge appeal for the Chinese visitor. Whilst France’s luxury brands like Chanel and Louis Vuitton attract Chinese tourists in their droves, the UK’s educational institutions are like a luxury brand in themselves.
“As the Chinese consumer’s tastes get more sophisticated, there is also a growing appreciation of both UK fashion superstars and up-and-coming designers such as Stella Mc Cartney, Anya Hindmarch, Gareth Pugh and Christopher Kane. More could be done to promote these valuable national treasures who represent the best the UK has to offer.” Yap concluded.