EU Visa: Red Tape Impacts UK Hoteliers

Red tape and bad communication surrounding the EU visa process is deterring foreign visitors from visiting the UK, new research reveals.

The report from the European Tour Operators Association (ETOA) has revealed that the EU is missing out on as many as 450,000 potential visitors – a statistic that sticks in the throat of UK hoteliers working hard to attract new source markets.

And it seems that the UK visa experience is particularly bad, with over 58,000 potential visitors “giving up” on their travel plans to the UK, and nearly 314,000 deciding not to even bother applying.

EU Visa Deters Chinese Source Markets

Worst affected are Chinese tourists, who are most likely to run into difficulties when applying for an EU visa.

“Applications clearly have to be made available in the applicants’ mother tongue,” explained ETOA executive director, Tom Jenkins “Not doing so breaks a basic rule of sales and certainly acts as a disincentive to travel. It displays a sweeping arrogance to applicants. It is inconceivable that China would force Europeans to fill out visa applications in Chinese.”

Despite the fact that China has been singled out as one of the most important growth markets for Europe, 26% of all potential Chinese clients cancelled their trips to Europe owing to the slow processing of Schengen Visas. Before being granted a visa to come to the UK, Chinese citizens have to fill out forms in English and present themselves at a consulate, where they are finger printed and interrogated about their life, wealth and prospects. As part of this process, some applicants are denied visas, but a greater number give up because the process is too painful or takes too long.

Tom Jenkins says, “The cancellations caused by problematic visa processing have repercussions. It is not an easy decision to go to Europe. It is harder to then publicly change your mind. That Europe is perceived as slow and bureaucratic is a major disincentive in itself.”

Conservative estimates by the European Tour Operators Association put the financial loss to the European Union, caused by poor visa processing at over €500 Million per year.

By Victoria Sweetland

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