UK prime minister David Cameron has announced a number of reforms to visa processing for Chinese visitors to the UK as part of the Chinese premier Xi Jinping’s visit to London.
Key among these is that, from January 2016, two year multiple entry visas for Chinese visitors will be reduced from £324 to £85 – the cost of a standard six month visa.
Cameron also announced that the government is planning to reduce the cost of ten year visas from £747 to £85, although no date has been set for this as yet.
Other reforms include extending the reach of the on-demand mobile visa service in China.
This service allows customers to provide their biometric data at one of 17 locations rather than being required to travel to a visa application centre.
Tom Jenkins, chief executive of ETOA, said: “The industry has been pressing hard, led by the UK Tourism Alliance, for a reduction in the cost of UK visas to Chinese visitors.
“This shows that the government has been listening.
“What is really heartening is the fact that they are starting to tailor requirements for each market.”
The plans will also see the UK upgrade the 12 visa application centres and offering out of working hours appointments.
There are also plans to develop a dedicated team based in the British Embassy in Beijing which supports business, tourism and education sectors with their visa needs.
However, Jenkins added a note of caution: “We are not at the stage where clients can fill in the forms in their own alphabet (let alone language), but this is a step in the right direction.”