[photopress:hotels_visa_line_UK.jpg,full,alignright]There is a great lesson for China, and indeed any country, about tourism in the problems that have hit the British tourist industry because of the soaring cost of visas and new security measures.
Tourism officials warn the industry is under threat and thousands of jobs are at stake because the cost of a visa from countries such as China has doubled and visitors must provide biometric information.
The concern is that Britain will come off itineraries because it is possible to get a single, cheaper visa which allows travel around 24 other European countries.
The cost of a tourist visa to Britain has risen from $72 to $126, which, understandably, has led to a drop in the number of applications.
Problems are exacerbated because holidaymakers needing a visa now have to travel to visa offices to give biometric information before they can get the document, adding to travel costs and leaving some people in remote areas with a journey of hundreds of miles.
The tourist organisation VisitBritain (itself suffering a budget cut) states China is one of the countries worst affected.
Chief executive Stephen Dowd of UKInbound — representing hundreds of businesses catering for overseas visitors — said there had been a ‘noticeable drop-off’ in business from visa countries.
He said, ‘I think in the long term it’s going to be a major problem. If we start losing hundreds, even thousands of jobs, everybody suffers and over the long term that’s exactly what’s going to happen.’
A Home Office spokesman, sounding exactly the way a Home Office spokesman should, said: ‘We are exploring ways to facilitate short visits to the UK for those with a Schengen visa (that is the visa for the European Community countries) without imposing significant extra financial burdens on the traveller. Our consultation on these new proposals is still ongoing, and no decisions have yet been made.’
He said the demand for biometric data was part of a ‘triple ring of security’ to stop people entering Britain illegally. Results suggest that is not working too well, either.
Source: Yorkshire Post