UK visa reform imminent


VisitBritain, the UK's official tourist board, is preparing a new strategy to boost tourism to the UK which includes a plan to reform the visa application process

In last week's annual review by the national tourism agency, VisitBritain, minister for sports and tourism, Hugh Robertson, hinted at what was to come for visa reform as a key strategy intended to boost tourism to the UK.

As part of a bold four-pointed plan, “making it easier to get here by addressing barriers to growth such as aviation capacity and the visa regime” featured on the list. The tourism agency has called for a consultation with the tourist industry, public sector and government to explore how best to move plans forward and action changes.

Robertson, formerly a critic of visa application regulations with complaints that embassies were taking too long to process applications, said that he hoped to have more news about the reforms “in the very near future”.

Any reforms that take place will have to be carefully considered as the pressure is on to ensure that it is harder for travellers to abuse the system, yet easy for them to visit. This comes following the criticism of the UK Border Agency earlier this year over student visas.

Robertson also criticised the recent high-publicity campaigns against Air Passenger Duty: "When the tourism industry criticises APD, it is a message that goes abroad," he said. "We must put our best face in our shop window."

VisitBritain chairman Christopher Rodrigues added that in 2011, Britain was the seventh most popular destination in the world for incoming visitors, but that: "the US is trying to attract 100 million visitors a year by 2021; we have to meet this challenge head on."


Posted On : 05 December,2012