Fresh pressure on UK government to change Chinese visa arrangements

Jessica Morris
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The Residents Of London's Chinatown Celebrate The New Year Of The Monkey
The government had said it was working on a 10-year visa for Chinese tourists (Source: Getty)

Lobby group UK China Visa Alliance (UKCVA) and West End landlord Shaftesbury are ramping up pressure on the government to accelerate planned Chinese visa reforms in the wake of the Brexit vote.

They want Whitehall to bring forward plans to extend the current two-year visa for Chinese nationals visiting Britain to a 10-year multiple entry visa.

It comes amid a drop in spending by Chinese tourists to the UK following the introduction of Schengen biometric visa requirements, which have made it more difficult for them to secure travel permission.

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UKCVA and Shaftesbury also want the existing "one stop shop" visa partnership with Belgium to be replaced by a larger Schengen partner which can process the application for both visas.

While Britain isn't part of the Schengen area, which enables borderless travel between 26 European countries, last year it announced a partnership with Belgium to allow Chinese travel permits for Britain and Schengen states to be processed in the same centre.

The group also called on the government to ensure negotiations on customs agreements for Brexit should not deter Chinese visitors from shopping in the UK.

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"The UK has a lot to offer Chinese tourists with destinations like Chinatown being seen as a home from home, and we know that their spend across shopping, hospitality and leisure would significantly increase if we could attract more Chinese visitors," UKCVA and Shaftesbury said.

"However, to date the UK is yet to reap the full benefits of outbound Chinese travel — despite being relatively more efficient than Schengen at processing visas, the number of applications being processed in comparison with Schengen is much lower."