After a trade visits to Beijing, George Osborne announced plans to simplify visa applications for Chinese visitors who wish to enter the UK. At the moment, Chinese individuals who wish to travel to the UK have to apply for a separate visa to enter the country, as the UK is not part of the Schengen visa scheme. However, under Osborne’s new guidelines, Chinese visitors who travel to the EU will not have to submit a separate visa application to enter the UK, when they book with chosen travel agencies. As part of the new visa applications, a 24-hour ‘super priority’ visa issue will be made available from summer 2014 as well as a mobile visa plan. In a press statement, Osborne shared his thoughts on the new visa scheme: “These changes will streamline and simplify the visa application process for Chinese visitors, while ensuring the system is strong and secure. This is good news for British business and tourism.” It is especially good news for the British retail industry, as Chinese visitors travel to the UK for shopping opportunities because luxury items are an estimated 30 percent cheaper in the UK than in China.
Simplified Chinese visa application to boost Chinese visitors
So it came as no great shock when London Luxury Quarter announced a new campaign, designed to please and entice luxury seeking Chinese guests. This promotion will offer private tours and services for the first time, tailored made for ‘ultra high net worth guests,’ with focus on pleasing their Chinese visitors. Exclusive stores, such as Tiffany & Co., Gieves & Hawkes, Hayward, and more will open their door to these special guests and offer them a private glimpse into their worlds. With these ‘luxury tour operators,’ the London Luxury Quarter aims to promote themselves to ‘high net worth individuals who are looking for something extraordinary’. According to internal sources, these experiences will offer Mandarin-speaking support and will be promoted in China during Boris Johnson’s, LLQ’s executive, visit later this month.
Global payment service WorldPay, revealed that Chinese tourists spend an average of 737 pounds per visit, which is a 50 percent year-on-year growth. According to a recent report from shopping consultancy Global Blue, almost 168 million pounds of ‘potential retail purchases in London’s West End’ were lost in 2012 because of the UK’s difficult visa application. The UK China Visa Alliance estimated that simplified visa requirements for Chinese’s guests could give an annual push of 1.2 billion pounds to the UK economy. Therefore the new visa application scheme hopes to see current revenues made by Chinese visitors in the UK grow to an ‘estimated 3 billion a year by 2020’. While visiting London, Chinese visitors tend to spend 3 times more on luxury items than any other nationality. London Luxury Quarter, which consists of over 1,000 exclusive stores, is ready to receive the expected influx of Chinese visitors with their private tour and help promote Chinese visitors coming to the UK.