China citizens are able to obtain a single visa for the European Union, so they can visit any of the 25 Schengen nations, however in order to visit the United Kingdom they need a separate one. The culture secretary Jeremy Hunt proposed measures on how to make it easier for Chinese tourists to visit Britain, especially for the Olympic Games, as it has been calculated that a Chinese visitor will spend about £1,700 on average in the UK, which will have a positive effect on the UK`s economy. However the Home Secretary Theresa May has some security concerns and for this reason she is reluctant to make additional moves on making it easier for Chinese tourists to obtain a UK visa.
This was made clear by a leaked letter sent by May`s secretary to Downing Street, which reveals that the Home Secretary has rejected the proposals to extend the EU visas to the UK. In the letter Katharine Hammond says: “The proposal… is not acceptable to the Home Secretary for national security reasons. At Cabinet the issue of asylum claims was discussed. We also face significant challenges with Foreign National Offenders and organised crime including drugs, money laundering, fraud, criminal finances, intellectual property, immigration and cyber crime.”
It has been also pointed out that there are 400 Chinese criminals to be deported and over 1000 asylum seeking applications from Chinese citizens. Many people blame the complexity of visa obtaining to be the reason for the low level of Chinese tourists. Last year only 142,000 Chinese citizens have visited Britain, compared to over 1,2 million, who visited France. May denied these accusations and put the blame on VisitBritain for not taking enough marketing measures to promote Britain as an attractive tourist destination.
The Home Office argues that the visa process is “insignificant compared to the price and availability of hotels” and says “the cost of the visa is not a barrier”