UK Retailers are Urging the Government to Simplify the Visa Process

The majority of Chinese people travelling to Europe apply for a Schengen visa, which enables entry to the 24 European countries that have signed the freedom of movement agreement.

The UK is not party to that agreement and a separate visa is required, necessitating a personal visit to one of 12 application centres in China. Application forms are 10 pages long and have only just become available in Mandarin.

UK luxury retailers are pressing the government to tackle visa bottlenecks for Chinese tourists, claiming bureaucracy is causing shoppers to shun London stores in favour of centres such as Paris and Milan, reports the Financial Times.

Retail spending in the UK from Chinese visitors topped £350m last year, according to Global Blue, a financial services company, but retailers including Harrods, Selfridges and Fortnum & Mason argue this could be far higher if the UK visa process was simplified.

Global Blue estimates the visa application procedure could rob luxury retailers of £165m of sales during the next two years.

the Harrods store at night

The glittering Harrods department store, Knightsbridge, London

source: http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/ae31f484-2c9d-11e0-83bd-00144feab49a.html

The Schengen Area comprises the territories of twenty-five European countries that have implemented the Schengen Agreement signed in the town of Schengen, Luxembourg, in 1985. The Schengen Area operates very much like a single state for international travel purposes with border controls for travellers travelling in and out of the area, but with no internal border controls.

source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schengen_Area

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