UKinbound is urging the government to make its two-year reduced cost multi entry Chinese visa pilot a permanent scheme.
The scheme is due to end in January 2018, however with China’s Golden Week holiday set to begin on Sunday, UKinbound has surveyed its tour operator members to find out what impact the visa pilot has had on their businesses to date.
Some 96 per cent of respondents to the survey were aware of the visa pilot and 85 per cent stated that bookings from China have increased since it was introduced.
In 2016, the number of visitor visas issued in China to the UK increased by 20 per cent (compared with 2015) to over 480,000.
Chinese visitors also spent over £513 million in the UK in 2016.
However, when asked how the government could improve the current visa system for Chinese visitors (and hence attract more to the UK), 73 per cent of respondents stated multi entry to the UK over longer periods of time, for the same cost.
The current two-year pilot visa costs £85.
One stop shop visa application centres and application forms in Chinese languages were also addressed as important improvements that could be made.
UKinbound, chief executive officer, Deirdre Wells, commented: “We’re excited to once again welcome Chinese tourists to the UK during Golden Week and it’s encouraging to hear that the government’s two-year visa pilot has resulted in increased Chinese visitors for our tour operator members.
“It’s imperative that this trend continues and that the UK continues to signal to China that we are a welcoming and accessible destination.
“We urge the government to confirm that the pilot scheme will be a permanent fixture from 2018 and to also extend the length of the visa to ten years which will encourage visitors to make more repeat visits to the UK.”
The Chinese Golden Week is the name given to a semi-annual seven-day national holiday, which seems more than half a billion citizens embark on holidays.