The Association of Independent Tour Operators claims government proposals to end the visa waivers in 11 countries could bring hardship to people living in those countries.

The Home Office and UK Border Agency has said there is a strong case to impose visa regimes on these 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.

AITO says eight of these countries are fellow Commonwealth nations who depend heavily upon British tourism and it is concerned that the effect will mean visitor numbers will fall.

AITO Chairman Derek Moore, said: “These new measures are a real concern for our members, over 60 of whom operate to these 11 countries. They have intimated to me that should reciprocal measures come into effect, the hassle and cost involved in obtaining visas will make it prohibitive.

“Locals, who depend upon the business and tips that tourists bring, will be the real ones to suffer from this political decision. AITO has also recently accepted inbound UK companies to the membership and these companies will suffer directly from the drop in tourism to the UK. We sympathise with UKinbound. The economic climate is difficult enough at the present time without additional hurdles being put in place.”

The 11 countries named by the Home Office are:

  • Bolivia

  • Botswana

  • Brazil

  • Lesotho

  • Malaysia

  • Mauritius

  • Namibia

  • South Africa

  • Swaziland

  • Trinidad and Tobago

  • Venezuela