Visitors from some of the most important markets for international retail have to apply for a visa to visit the UK. Although the application system is relatively easy, leading to over 90% of applicants obtaining a visitor visa in key markets like the Gulf States, and is continually being improved by the Government, we need to be constantly seeking enhancements which lower the visa application barrier while retaining Britain’s border security.

As the UK is not part of the Schengen area, visitors wanting to make a multi-country tour of Europe need to apply for two visas if they wish to visit mainland Europe and the UK. Having to apply twice for two separate visas stops many individuals and tour operators from adding the UK to their multi-country tours.

AIR has incorporated the UK China Visa Alliance (UKCVA) which has worked for six years with the Government to increase Chinese visitor numbers. The UKCVA has helped to increase Chinese tourism to the UK by over 179% in five years through changes to UK visa policy and practices.  That is compared to the 129% growth in the Schengen area.


UK visitor visas issued in China 2018


UK visitor visas issued in China 2012

AIR will work with the Government on innovations to visas, border queues and best practice to make it easier for travellers from all over the world to visit the UK’s retail hotspots.