Culture & Tourism / 06 July 2016

BBPA backing calls for a new India visitor visa to boost UK tourism

A recently published report by the Royal Commonwealth Society, in partnership with leading aviation tourism and industry groups, is recommending that India is added to the UK’s latest £87 two-year visitor visa scheme.

Over the last ten years, fewer Indian tourists have been coming to Britain. France has now overtaken our country as laying claim to being the number one European destination for Indian tourists, welcoming over half a million of them each year.

Reforms to the visa system could help reverse the trend and help re-establish the UK as India’s premier European destination, whilst sending a strong message that Britain is still open for business in the wake of the EU referendum result.

Prime Minister David Cameron recently announced a pilot scheme offering Chinese visitors a two-year visitor visa for £87, and the Royal Commonwealth Society report recommends affording the same opportunity to Indian tourists. Currently, visitors from the sub-continent are granted a six-month visa costing £87, and have to pay £330 for the two-year option.

The proposed reforms are especially important as 2017 has been designated the UK-India year of Culture, and will mark 70 years of Indian independence through artistic, musical and business collaboration.

This celebration will be enjoyed between two nations that share deep economic and cultural ties, not least through the Indian diaspora in the UK of 1.4 million, but also through business – Indian business visitors contributed over £200 million to the UK economy in 2015.

More Indians are travelling abroad than ever before, with numbers growing 10% year-on-year, and these proposed changes could offer an attractive incentive to travellers and help the UK capitalise on the huge growth potential of Indian tourism.

The overseas tourism market is, of course, hugely important to British brewing and pubs. Visiting a pub is fourth on the list of things to do when tourists come to the UK, and seven out of ten overseas visitors come to a pub whilst they are here. India Pale Ale, an historic, world renowned style known more commonly as IPA, has been shipped to India since the 1820s, and, currently, beer exports to India from the UK are worth circa £300,000, a seven-fold increase since 2011.

Keeping ties with India will undoubtedly benefit beer and pubs, so the BBPA very much supports the extension of the two-year visa to India. In uncertain times in the UK, both politically and economically, keeping our Commonwealth links will be vital, and helps to show Britain as a country which is still open to the world.

Written by

Brigid Simmonds

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