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UK: Changes to Visitor Visas for Chinese Nationals Announced
October 22, 2015
The UK Prime Minister”s Office has announced on 21st October 2015 that new visitor visas for people from the People”s Republic of China will be introduced from January 2016, aiming to attract more Chinese tourists and bring significant benefits to the UK economy.
Currently the standard UK visitor visa is for 6 months and costs £85, with the possibility to apply for a longer period for certain purposes and a higher price. The new visitor visas will allow Chinese tourists to apply instead for a 2 year visa at no additional cost. There is also an intention to go further and introduce a new 10 year multi-entry visa for Chinese tourists for the same price. Other improvements include expansion of the UK mobile fingerprinting service to an additional 50 cities in China and potentially the network of Visa Application Centres.
Chinese tourists contribute £500 million annually to the UK economy with an average spending of £2,688 per person every time they visit. As China is becoming one of the fastest-growing tourism markets, the UK has been competing for their favourite tourist destination in Europe with the countries in the Schengen area.
The new visitor visas amount to a better offer than the standard 90 day Schengen visa, which is built on the many improvements the UK government has already made to the visa service for Chinese applications. With the extended visa duration and steps taken to streamline the application process, the UK hopes to encourage more Chinese visitors to the UK and maximise their spending power, benefiting the UK tourism industry and beyond.
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