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Visa rules are hitting tourism into the UK.

Visa rules undermine tourism into the UK, while economic migrants flock to Britain in their thousands, it is claimed.

The British Incoming Tour Operators Association attacked the Home Office's immigration policy as 'inept' for letting in thousands of migrants, while legitimate tourists from emerging markets were denied entry because of 'complicated' visa rules. BITOA chief executive Stephen Dowd said: 'Inbound tourism suffers through the Home Office's lethargy, incompetence and misguided commitment to a political agenda rather than the needs of UK businesses and the British people.'

According to BITOA, the Home Office is blocking Approved Destination Status (ADS) for China and refuses to join the EU-backed Schengen Agreement whose members have already agreed ADS for China.

They say China is currently growing by 22 per cent per year and will soon be the biggest market in the world and should generate 100 million outbound tourists a year by 2020.

Mr Dowd said other developing tourist markets such as Russia and India were also impeded by 'confused visa legislation'.

He said: 'The UK inbound tourism industry is happy to go head-to-head with our competitors for this valuable business -despite being unable to compete on price -but to do so outside Schengen and without ADS is like fighting blindfolded with one hand tied behind your back.'
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Apr 8, 2004
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