Government visa plan could hit British travellers

The government’s proposed plan to reintroduce visas for visitors from 11 countries, including South Africa and Mauritius, could have a serious impact on British travel to those countries.

The Home Office and UK Border Agency has said there is a strong case to impose visa regimes on 11 countries unless they “significantly reduce” the risk in terms of the illegal ­immigration, crime and the ­security risk they pose to the UK by the end of the year.

The trade said the move could prompt the countries to respond by imposing strict visa restrictions on British tourists.

UKinbound chief executive Stephen Dowd said: “We would be very surprised if these countries stand still on this, having been told their ­citizens are not trustworthy. New visa requirements for UK ­travellers will mean increased cost and inconvenience for business trips and tourists.”

Federation of Tour Operators director-general and ABTA head of development Andy Cooper said new visa regimes would have a significant impact.

“Tour operators will not want to operate a charter to somewhere with visa restrictions, so they could have to review their programmes. Travel agents would send their customers ­elsewhere, such as Antigua ­instead of Trinidad,” he said.

Meanwhile, ABTA said new visa restrictions would mean yet more administrative work for agents.

A spokeswoman said: “We are concerned there will be reciprocity. Visas will make holidays more expensive and there will be more administration. South Africa and Malaysia are very strong markets for people visiting family and friends, and this will seriously impact that.”

The proposed visa restrictions mean visitors would need to apply for a six-month visa and provide their fingerprints before travelling to the UK.

A final decision on the visa restrictions will be made early next year.

Countries affected by proposed visa restrictions

  • Bolivia

  • Botswana

  • Brazil

  • Lesotho

  • ­Malaysia

  • Mauritius

  • Namibia

  • South Africa

  • Swaziland

  • Trinidad and Tobago

  • Venezuela

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