Tourism leader urges Britain to ease visa requirements

World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) president David Scowsill has urged the UK to ease its visa entry requirement and adopt the Schengen System that is common in most of Europe, if it is to avoid missing out on attracting tourists.

The Schengen visa allows visitors access to 25 European countries on one document, and although the UK is already in the process of easing visa restrictions for Indian visitors, Scowsill commented, ‘It is good to hear David Cameron is vowing to relax visa rules to allow more Indians to travel to Britain for work and study. Anything which allows people to travel more easily can only be a good thing, socially and economically, for the UK. But this is just one small step. The restrictive visa policies in place in the UK are making the country uncompetitive and the UK government now needs to loosen visa bureaucracy for other emerging markets like China.

‘China’s economy is growing faster than any other, Yet, the UK is currently losing out on thousands of Chinese tourists to our nearby neighbours because Chinese tourists face higher fees and have to complete a longer application form than if they want to visit most other countries in Europe. Chinese outbound travellers totalled 84 million last year and the UK receives only a small fraction of themIt’s time for Britain to become part of the Schengen system that offers Chinese visitors the chance to visit 26 countries in Europe on a single visa.

‘Cameron’s promise to loosen visa bureaucracy in India is all well and good, but if he really wants to make a difference to Britain’s economy and create jobs, he needs to fundamentally reform visa policies for booming economies like China too.’

The WTTC has carried out research that indicates that when a country eases its visa policy, tourist inflow can increase by between 5 and 25 percent, with a resultant increase in revenue and job creation.