A report by a tax-free shopping facilitator has revealed that the tough visa requirements resulted in Chinese tourists staying away from the UK report. It suggests that London’s West End alone, lost nearly 200 million Euros ($264 million) in retail revenue last year.
A Harrods’ representative has noted that Chinese tourists were the luxury department store’s most important customers. Spending by Chinese tourists abroad to find cheap deals on luxury goods is making them the highest-spending travellers in the world, the report showed.
But Britain’s strict visa application process, has kept many Chinese tourists away from London’s upmarket retail districts of Bond Street and Chelsea. Similarly, Russian tourists, who are the second-biggest shoppers, face up to two months’ waiting time for a British visa, whereas one for Europe’s 26-country Schengen Area can take as little as three days to process.
The report shows that tourists are instead favouring the European Schengen zone because of its straightforward visa process and widespread use as the visa is accepted in all member countries.
“Chinese tourists often prefer to shop in Europe where they can save as much as 50% on luxury goods,” said Dai Bin, president of the China Tourism Academy. It was also noted that France was ranked the top destination for Chinese tourists, with nearly 10% higher growth in Chinese visitors than seen by Britain. Germany ranked second with a 76% increase in Chinese visitors, boosted by flights from China landing at Frankfurt airport.