Chinese visitors to the UK spent an average of £737 per trip last year, a year-on-year increase of 50%.
However, due to the UK’s restrictive and complicated visa policy for Chinese nationals, the UK attracted just 7% of all Chinese visitors to Europe.
While steps have been taken to ease the visa application process for Chinese business travellers – including a five-day priority visa service and a mobile service enabling the application process and provision of biometric information to take place within the work place – the UK hospitality industry is still missing out on the growing trend for the Chinese to book travel independently.
The Chinese International Travel Monitor report shows that 62% of Chinese residents, particularly young travellers who book online, book holidays on an individual basis.Nigel Pockington, chief marketing officer at Hotels.com, said that with 100m Chinese citizens predicted to travel abroad each year by 2015, the boom in Chinese tourism offers a huge opportunity for the UK.
“However, with our research showing that a fifth of Chinese travellers cite ease of visa application as a key consideration, the UK’s system needs to be simplified. As with other European countries like France and Italy, the UK should at least consider making applications forms available in Mandarin to capitalise on the rise in independent travellers.
“Aside from benefiting the UK’s tourism industry, relaxing restrictions on visas could provide a big boost for retailers and the wider economy.”
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