Spending by Chinese tourists in the UK increased by 45 percent year-on-year in July, following the introduction of relaxed visa regulations.

According to figures by Visa Europe, Chinese tourists spent 50 million pounds using Visa across the retail and leisure sectors, overtaking France and Australia to become the second highest spending tourists in the UK. The top spending visitors were American, who spent 140 million pounds, up 16 percent from last year, the credit company said.

The increase in Chinese spend comes as Britain introduced a pilot scheme on July 1, which allows Chinese citizens to apply for a tourist visa for the UK and the Schengen area of 26 European countries simultaneously. Previously, Chinese tourists used to have to apply for two separate visas.

UK and Ireland managing director Visa Europe, Kevin Jenkins, said: “China is one of the fastest growing sources of tourism income for the UK and it looks set to become an important driver of growth for the sector. Spending on cards has seen a significant boost as Chinese tourists travel to the UK, confident in the use of plastic overseas.

“The simpler twin visa system for Chinese nationals already looks to have given a big summer boost to the UK’s retail and tourism industries. Going forward it will be interesting to see whether our data indicates a short-term boost or a genuine shift in Chinese tourism to the UK.”

Despite strong growth in Chinese spend in recent months, data from Visa Europe shows that the UK still trails behind the top five European destinations for Chinese tourists, who spend the most in Spain, followed by Switzerland, Italy, France and Germany.


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