UK think tank pushes for cheaper visas for Indians

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A leading UK-based think tank has released a research to support its call for a new, more economical visa regime to attract Indian visitors to the country.

The Royal Commonwealth Society (RCS) revealed that the UK was losing out as neighbouring France attracted 185,000 more Indian business visitors and tourists in 2016.

Overall the number of visits to the UK by Indian nationals fell by 1.73 per cent in 2016, while in France it grew by 5.3 per cent.

The UK’s market share of Indian outbound tourists has more than halved from 4.4 per cent in 2006 to 1.9 per cent in 2016 600,000 Indians visited France in 2016, 185,000 more than visited the UK, RCS says in its new Britain and India: Building a New Visa Partnership’ fact sheet presented to British MPs earlier this week as part of its campaign launched in 2016 for a new UK-India bilateral visa agreement which would considerably reduce the cost of tourist visas.

The new UK-India Visa Agreement being proposed would reduce the cost of a two-year visa from 388 pounds to just 89 pounds and allow travellers to make repeat visits within two years. This would mirror the reduced cost two-year multiple entry visa that was launched in January 2016 for visitors travelling both ways between the UK and China, RCS said in a statement.

The RCS feels the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in April, to be attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, presents the ideal setting for an announcement of a new agreement.

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