New visa regulations may impact UK tourism

Hotel News - 05/03/2009

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The new requirements will mean that, for the first time, visitors from Bolivia, Lesotho, South Africa, Swaziland and Venezuela will have to pay for entry visas. Prior to the changes, nationals of these countries were permitted to enter the UK visa-free.

According to the Borders and Immigration Agency, the changes are being introduced as the result of an extensive review. They constitute part of the most significant changes in border security and immigration measures in the country in more than 45 years.

Other measures to be introduced include the fingerprinting of all visa applicants and electronic identity checks at all UK ports and airports.

Tom Jenkins, who is the European Tour Operations Association executive director, has said that the changes will make London even less desirable to foreign visitors.

“The thing that concerns me is that increasingly the UK is seen as an additional and avoidable destination in Europe,” he noted. “As recently as 10 years ago, London was the gateway for people coming in from long-haul origin markets who wanted to see Europe. Nearly everybody arrived in London and left from London.”

Jenkins added: “Now, we are seeing most of the long-haul tour operators use a variety of gateway cities throughout the continent. London is seen as an add-on.”

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