Willie Walsh hits out at Hunt's tourism plans over Chinese visa issue
British Airways chief Willie Walsh has hit out at culture secretary Jeremy Hunt's plans to attract 500,000 Chinese tourists to the UK and has called for urgent change to the Government's visa system in order to secure vital visitor spend.
Hunt aims to triple the number of Chinese visitors in the UK to 500,000 by 2015, which he believes will create an additional £500m in visitor spend.
But Walsh, the chief executive of International Airlines Group, parent company of BA, said the UK is "losing out" to the rest of Europe from the Chinese tourism market because the visa system is a "hassle".
Walsh said in a statement: "The UK is losing out to the rest of Europe when it comes to Chinese visitors and this is entirely in the Government’s control.
"They need to change the visa system and change it urgently. In 2011 more than one million Schengen visas were issued to Chinese nationals allowing them to travel to 26 European countries.
"According to the British Embassy in Beijing only 193,000 visas were issued to Chinese visitors last year.
"It's more expensive and considerably more hassle to get a tourist visa to visit the UK, so the Chinese are taking their business and new-found wealth elsewhere."
However, home secretary Theresa May is reported to be blocking the move to make it easier for Chinese visitors to get visas, claiming that it could pose a national security risk.Follow @loullamae_es
This article was first published on marketingmagazine.co.uk
- Artworker Fashion & Retail Personnel Consultancy £23000 - £25000 per annum + Outstanding Benefits!, London
- Senior Marketing Campaign Executive Visit Britain Circa £33,000, London
- Senior Campaign Marketing Manager Visit Britain Circa £45,000, London
- Tech PR AD Needed - Global PR Agency! Digital Gurus £40000 - £50000 per annum + BENS, London
- Senior Marketing Officer Stopgap £33654 - £39705 per annum, City of London
- VCCP, MediaCom, Lida and SapientNitro among Campaign's Agencies of 2013
- Ogilvy poaches McDonald's creative director for Unilever role
- More evidence of strong TV spend in second half of 2013
- New year's resolution: learn to code in 2014
- Evian tops YouTube 2013 ad leaderboard
- Watch: The Economist's interactive Nelson Mandela film