JOHN LEWIS retail boss Andrew Murphy was named as chairman today of the UK China Visa Alliance (UKCVA), the retail body lobbying for a shake-up of visa rules to attract more Chinese tourists to the UK.
Under current rules Chinese visitors to Europe can apply for a single visa for access to all 26 countries under the Schengen agreement. But they have to apply for a separate visa to visit the UK.
The UKCVA estimates only seven per cent, or 200,000, of these visitors apply for both visas, with the UK losing out on about £1.2bn in spending.
“Our contention is that tour operators are enthusiastic to come to the UK but they are not always so determined that they will make the effort to get a UK visa,” Murphy said.
He said talks were underway with the Home Office about creating a “single drop off point” in China for Schengen and UK visa applications.
“We hope by early next year to have an agreement in principle on how we are going to proceed,” he said.