Bicester MP speaks out over visa system for Chinese visitors

MHBG-26-01-12 Tony Baldry''MHBG- MP Tony Baldry - head and shoulders, serious
MHBG-26-01-12 Tony Baldry''MHBG- MP Tony Baldry - head and shoulders, serious
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Bicester’s MP has criticised the ‘complex visa system’ Chinese visitors face when coming to this country.

Sir Tony Baldry, a former chairman of the International Development Committee, said the UK was losing out 
to its closest Continental rivals.

Sir Tony has written to the Home Secretary, Theresa May, to express his concerns.

In his letter, he said: “It is well known that Chinese visitors are likely to spend a not insignificant amount of money when on holiday in the UK,” and added that simplifying the visa system, “would be of substantial benefit to our economy.”

He said: “Bicester Village is an immensely popular tourist destination for Chinese visitors.

“I am sure that reforming the visa entry system would encourage more Chinese visitors and this would be of considerable benefit to the local economy in Bicester.

“At the moment this business is being sent elsewhere in Europe and Bicester is really missing out.

“It is difficult to understand why the visa system faced by Chinese visitors is so complex particularly when it is so much more straightforward for neighbouring countries like France.”

Last week, industry groups from the British Chambers of Commerce, British Hospitality Association and the Institute of Directors called on the Home Secretary to reform the visa system.

The UK gets 149,000 Chinese visitors a year, compared to the 1.1 million who visit France.

Bicester Village is the top tourist destination outside London for Chinese visitors, and reported an increase of 72 per cent in visitors from China last year.