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Government tourism partnership strategy welcomed, but we need visa improvements too

The Airport Operators Association (AOA), the trade body for UK airports, today responded to the launch of a new tourism partnership strategy, involving Government, the travel industry, and key public and private sector bodies, which aims to boost tourism by 23% by 2020.

Darren Caplan, Chief Executive of the AOA, said: “We welcome the Government’s commitment to increasing the number of overseas visitors entering the UK by 23% by 2020, which if realised would provide a vital boost to UK plc in terms of job creation and increased economic growth.

“However, there are simple steps the Government could already take to make the UK a more welcoming destination for would-be visitors. In addition to ensuring the UK has excellent aviation connectivity right across the country – air travel in the UK accounts for 84% of all inbound visitors’ spending – the Government should go further in simplifying the visa process for inbound visitors to these shores. The current process by which foreign nationals from countries such as China are granted a visa is a real deterrent at the moment.

“We acknowledge that Ministers have taken steps in the past few months to improve the visa process, but believe the Government should go further. For example, it should consider introducing longer-duration, multiple-entrance visas which allow visitors an opportunity to come to the UK over a longer period without having to apply for a visa every time they want to come here.

“The Prime Minister is right when he says that the UK is engaged in a global race to succeed, a race for the economic prosperity of the future. We see boosting tourism as a vital part of this – improving the UK’s connectivity with the rest of the world, and streamlining the country’s visa system, will help us succeed in this challenge.”

For further information please contact Tim Alderslade on 0207 340 0992 or [email protected].

ENDS

Notes to Editors:

The Airport Operators Association (AOA) is the trade association that represents UK airports. Its mission is to see UK airports grow sustainably. It represents the views of UK airports to Government, Parliament and Regulators to secure policy outcomes that help deliver our mission. The AOA represents some 50+ UK airports and general aviation airfields in the UK. For more information, please visit www.aoa.org.uk<