The Tourism Alliance has responded with dismay at the proposal by the Conservative Party to put visa fees up by 25% which was reported in the Telegraph today.

This proposed 25% increase would be on top of the 15% increase we saw in 2023 to fund a public sector pay award and a 5% increase in 2022.

This means that a standard 6 month visitor visa will go up to £144, a 5 year visa to £964, and a 10 year visa to £1,203.

The UK’s visa offer is already extremely price uncompetitive. While our standard visa will be £144 under these proposals, the EU charges just £76 (€90) and that allows travel through all 29 countries of the Schengen area. The US charges Chinese visitors £145 ($185) for a 10-year visa, compared to the UK cost of £1,203 under these proposals.

Richard Toomer, Executive Director of the Tourism Alliance, said,

“It is no surprise that the World Economic Forum continually ranks the UK extremely low for price competitiveness of our tourism offer – the latest ranking for 2024 was 113th out of 119 countries globally.

“Parties and governments don’t make these decisions in isolation – we are part of an extremely competitive global tourism marketplace, and we are falling far behind.

“It might be tempting to see tourists and visa fees as a ‘cost free’ way of raising money. But for the people, businesses and communities who rely on tourism here in the UK, it is far from cost free.

“We need to tackle our high and uncompetitive visa regime, not pile more and more pressure on it.”

“The tourism industry is well placed to help the UK economy grow, but we need the right policy environment to do that. Today’s proposal from the Conservatives sadly takes us in the opposite direction. I hope the other parties recognise the folly in hitting tourists in this way and undertake to tackle the scourge of ever-growing visa fees.”

Simplifying the visa application process and a proposal for a new, lower-cost, multiple-entry visa are two of the policies outlined in our Tourism Alliance manifesto, Realising the Potential, available on our website.

Published: 10 June 2024

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