France is ‘stealing’ high-spending Chinese visitors from Britain – putting at risk more than a billion pounds of income, say furious hotel and tourism bosses.
Attempts to make it easier for Chinese and other tourists to visit Britain have failed and we risk falling further behind when France launches an express visa processing system tomorrow.
Chinese tourists spend almost £7billion a year on visits overseas, but Britain takes only a paltry £300million of that.
The French government will tomorrow launch a 48-hour visa processing system to coincide with the start of the Chinese New Year on January 31. By contrast, obtaining a British visa takes up to five days.
Jason Yap, chief executive of online travel website Travelzoo, said: ‘The outbound Chinese market is huge and the UK is missing out again and again.
Despite half-hearted revisions to the visa application system, other countries are cashing in on the business brought by Chinese tourists as they make it simple to enter the country.’
Ufi Ibrahim, chief executive of the British Hospitality Association, said: ‘China has rapidly become the second-largest tourism market in the world after the US.
‘If you’re serious about competing with other destinations then you’ve got to be competitive.’