On the evening of the 16th June 2014, at a reception at The Mayfair Hotel in Central London that was hosted by the Conservative Friends of the Chinese and the UK China Visa Alliance (UKCVA), the Home Secretary Theresa May made a government announcement to key businessmen, key members of the Chinese community and members of the Conservative Friends of the Chinese on various changes to the visa system relating to Chinese tourists visiting Britain
At the evening event, the Home Secretary announced a new visa service, to be offered to all Chinese visitors to the UK following a pilot programme for tour operators last year. Business and tourism visitors will be able to use a single application to process their visas for Britain as well as for a Schengen visa, which allows access to 26 European countries. A new 24-hour visa service to Chinese visitors will also be launched in August, while Chinese visitors will, from the autumn, be able to use an Irish visitor visa to travel to the UK without the need for a separate UK visa.
Over the last few months, The Conservative Friends of the Chinese has been working hard together with the UK China Visa Alliance in securing these changes which will allow the process of Chinese visitors visiting Britain easier. So why have we been working on this issue?
An official statistic shows that Chinese tourists had an average spending per day of around £202 during their trips to Europe and that they could spend more than £600 in one shopping tour, more than most travellers from other countries. In 2013, an average Chinese customer spent £ 3,500 at Harrods per visit.
However, Britain only attracts 7% of the total number of Chinese tourists to the Europe compared to France who on average receives 32% each year, 25% more than the UK. Global Blue (a specialist in tracking global shopping habits) released a report recently that London's West End lost out on an estimated £168m lost in the past year due to UK’s complicated visa policies for Chinese tourists. The report further claimed that Chinese tourist market contains a great potential shopping power that they spent $102bn while travelling internationally in 2012.
As an organisation that is fully affiliated with the Conservative Party, we work very hard in not only in championing the voice of the British Chinese in politics but also in working to improve bi-lateral relations between Britain and China. With this recent announcement, the Conservative Friends of the Chinese knows that this will attract more Chinese visitors to the UK, thereby boosting our tourism industry which will help businesses grow, especially small businesses, and create to jobs which will also benefit the British Chinese community. It is estimated that Chinese tourists spent an estimated £492m in Britain in 2013 and if we attracted as many Chinese visitors as France does, this could mean an estimated £1.2b spend in the UK. This could equate to an estimated additional 24,000 jobs for British workers.
China is important to the British economy and the Chinese community in Britain is also important to the British society. Therefore, the Conservative Friends of the Chinese is working hard to ensure that our voice is heard loudly across all levels in the world of British politics.
Together with our allies in politics and business, the Conservative Friends of the Chinese have worked hard to make sure this change of policy would benefit the British economy as a whole, the British Chinese business communities as well as strengthen the bilateral links between Britain and China.