Chinese tourists will be able to stay in Britain for up to two years as part of David Cameron’s plan to strengthen ties with the East Asian nation. The prime minister made the visa announcement ahead of a visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping to Number 10 as part of his trip to the UK.
The move, which will come into force from January 2016, will mean the usual six-month limit on tourist visas will be extended by four times, which the prime minister has claimed will bring “significant benefits” to the British economy. Cameron also announced his plans for a new 10-year multi-entry visa for Chinese tourists. Meanwhile, VisitBritain said Chinese tourists currently contribute £500m ($772m) a year to the UK economy.
“China is becoming one of our fastest-growing tourism markets so making it easier and more convenient for Chinese visitors to come to the UK is extremely important,” Cameron said. “That is why the announcement I’m making today is great news for our tourism industry and great news for the British economy enabling us to maximise Chinese spending power even further. “It will mean that the UK has the best offer in Europe for Chinese tourists and will build on our already strong people to people links, strengthening UK-China relations further.”
Xi and Cameron are expected to seal £30bn worth of business deals between the nations and the prime minister is under pressure to raise the plight of British steel industry, with thousands facing job losses as Chinese firms undercut their Western competitors on pricing.