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A planned hike in visa charges for travellers to Britain has been condemned by UKinbound.

The trade body representing more than 350 members fears such action could undermine efforts to boost tourism to the UK.

Chief executive, Deirdre Wells, spoke out after it emerged that the Home Office was planning a 2% rise in visitor visas fees from April.

She said: “I am extremely disappointed to see that visit visas will be increased by 2% and believe it will have a long-term detrimental effect on inbound tourism to the UK.  

“Each inbound visitor contributes an additional £630 in export earnings and contributes £216 to the Exchequer; they more than pay their way already.”

Wells added: “Even though it is a small fee increase, we at UKinbound believe that this sends the wrong message to potential overseas visitors about how much the UK values their business.  

“Last year, we were encouraged to see the government improving the accessibility of the UK for tourists with the reduction in the cost of a two year visa for Chinese visitors to £85 – it would be unfortunate if that message of support was to be undermined by a fee increase in 2016.”

UKinbound introduced a number of campaigns directed at the government last year to raise awareness and highlight the “vital role” inbound tourism to the UK plays within the economy.

“Whilst we at UKinbound fully recognise the need to balance the UK economy, we believe that the most effective way to do this is to do all we can to encourage more inbound visitors to the UK,” said Wells.

“We will continue our determined efforts to encourage the government to acknowledge, build and commit to the importance on the inbound tourism sector which in 2015 contributed almost £22 billion to the economy.”