Visa changes will work, says Professor Wang on BBC

17 October 2013

Qing Wang

Professor Qing Wang, Associate Dean for Internationalisation, welcomed the UK’s decision to relax visa rules for Chinese visitors telling the BBC this is “long overdue”.

On a trade mission to China Chancellor George Osborne revealed Chinese nationals visiting the EU will not need to submit separate UK visa applications if they book with selected travel agents.

At the moment Chinese visitors can apply for a single visa to visit 26 European countries but a separate one is required to travel to the UK.

On BBC News 24 Professor Wang, who is director of MICE (Marketing, Innovation and the Chinese Economy), said: “The Chinese tourist market is estimated to be worth around £100 billion annually. But many of them shy away from Britain due to the perceived 'harsh' and inflexible visa requirements compared to other neighbouring countries. The UK has been shooting itself in the foot. 

“The middle class Chinese tourists consider Europe as a preferred holiday destination and there is a rapid increase in the number of Chinese tourists to all major European cities covered by the Schengen visa. Although many expressed their desire to visit famous British places such as London, other historical sites and the picturesque countryside, they were deterred by having to apply for a separate visa to Britain.”

The quicker visa system could not only help UK business in its dealings with China, but also higher education as a mobile visa scheme that already operates in Beijing and Shanghai will be expanded as part of the changes.

Under the mobile service, officials go out to applicants to collect their paperwork and biometric data. The process can take less than five minutes. A 24-hour ‘super priority’ visa service will also be available from next summer. 

Professor Wang added: “The British secondary and higher education is considered one of the best in the world alongside the US for the growing Chinese middle class and their children.

"But the stringent visa requirements in the UK may have turned away Chinese from coming to study in the UK and go to the US instead. Recent figures show in the 2011/12 academic year the number of Chinese students enrolled to study in the US reached 226,000 - an annual increase of 23 per cent, and represents 25.4 per cent of the total number of international students in the US.

"The number of Chinese students in the UK is also increasing, but at a much slower rate of 10 per cent with a total of 65,000 enrolled in the 20011/2012 academic year, representing 15 per cent of the total international students in the UK.

"George Osborne's comment that 'there is no limit to the number of Chinese students who can come to study in Britain, there is no limit to the number of Chinese tourists who can come to visit, and there is no limit to the number of companies who can come to do business' should be good news for both the Chinese who have money to spend or to invest and the people here in Britain who will benefit from a more dynamic and open economy. 

“Britain's sound legal system and open economy as well as the status of London as an international finance and services centre make the country an attractive destination in Europe for Chinese investors.”

Click here to listen to Professor Qing Wang talk about the subject on BBC Radio Scotland. She is on after 1hr 20mins.

See this article featuered in the New York Times, City A.M. and BBC News.

Professor Qing Wang teaches Buyer Behaviour on Warwick Business School's undergraduate courses.





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