Chinese tourists are visiting Schengen visa Countries and are avoiding the UK. As the UK is not part of the Schengen visa regime tourists have to apply separately for an UK visa to visit the UK. A Schengen visa allows entry to fifteen European Countries including France, Germany, Italy and Spain.
Carma Elliot, consul-general in Shanghai, said: "Most Chinese tourists want to go on a continental tour. We cannot currently capture that. But we are busily exploring the options... whether we could offer visas as part of a wider European tour."
There were concerns from businesses that the number of business visitors greatly outweighed the number of tourist visitors. According to Visit Britain in 2007 there were 750,000 Chinese visitors to France. This compares to the 150,000 Chinese visitors to the UK during the same period.
Alastair Morgan, UK Trade and Investment director for China, said: "We think there's a lot of future potential for tourism from China. But at the moment we have far more business visitors. We would like the UK to be performing better like France and Italy."
The latest official figures show a considerable decline in the numbers of people visiting the UK:
- 6.28 million people visited the UK in the first quarter of 2009. This is a fall of 13 percent compared to 2008.
- 7.19 million people visited the UK in the first quarter of 2008.
- Visits from South America, Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Australasia were down 11pc.