By Henry Williams.
The British Prime Minister, David Cameron, has backed reforms to make it easier for Chinese visitors to come to the United Kingdom.
Despite concerns over national security raised by Teresa May, the Home Secretary, Downing Street said that they believe that the economic benefits outweighs the risk of criminals coming to the country:
“Increasingly, Chinese people are coming to the UK for business reasons and for tourism. If you look at what other countries are doing, they are trying to make it easier for Chinese people to come into the country for those purposes and we are looking to do the same.”
Today’s change in policy will bring more money to the country from what has been termed a “growth market”. The average Chinese visitor spends £1,700 per trip, according to the Evening Standard. Business leaders believe that overall a billion pounds worth of spending is being lost.
Speaking in September, Willie Walsh (British Airways boss, and president of the London Chamber of Commerce), said there was “a real appetite” to relax rules for wealthy Chinese visitors wanting to visit.
Last year, just 150,000 Chinese citizens visited the UK, whereas over a million visited France. Only one visa is required to visit all countries in the Schengen countries.
The changes will also hopefully help visitors going in the opposite direction too. Chinese authorities operate reciprocal visa requirements for UK citizens, charging amongst the highest fees to visitors from Britain. For a multi-entry visa, it currently costs £180 for one year – Chinese citizens pay a similar amount.