Chinese visitors to the UK spent an average of £737 per trip last year, a 50% year-on-year increase, highlighting the importance of this market for UK hotels. If the UK doesn’t make its visa policies easier for Chinese tourists, it could miss out on a huge percentage of Chinese travellers holidaying in Europe.
According to new figures released by global payment service WorldPay, the UK only attracted 7% of all Chinese visitors to the continent because of its comparatively complicated visa policies for tourists from China.
While steps have been taken to make the UK’s system easier for Chinese business leaders visiting the UK and talks are under way with tour operators to shorten the process for these visitors, a recent report from Hotels.com suggests that this approach could mean that the UK misses out on a growing trend for Chinese people to book travel independently. A recent report from the Chinese International Travel Monitor found that 65% of Chinese residents now book holidays independently, led by younger travellers who appear to be more confident booking online.
Nigel Pocklington from Hotels.com said: “With 100 million 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.”