Overall the number of visits to the UK by Indian nationals fell by 1.73% in 2016, while in France it grew by 5.3%.
Commenting on the research, Director of The Royal Commonwealth Society, Michael Lake, said: “Given the strong historic ties between the UK and India in areas such as trade, culture and business, the fact that France continues to attract more Indian visitors than the UK is not only hugely surprising, but also enormously concerning. It’s clear that more needs to be done to build stronger links between such important Commonwealth partners.”
In response to these statistics, MPs, The Royal Commonwealth Society and representatives from the travel and tourism sector are today in Parliament reiterating their calls for a UK-Indian bilateral visa agreement to stop this decline and kick-start growth in the number of Indian visitors to the UK. The call comes ahead of the Commonwealth Summit, being held in London next month, which Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to attend.
Given that the competitiveness of the UK visa offering globally has plummeted from 22nd to 108th in international rankings, a UK-India bilateral visa agreement would be an ideal initial step in making the UK a more attractive destination for Indian visitors. The agreement would be similar to the one recently put in place with China.
Virendra Sharma MP, who is supporting the campaign, said: “A new UK-India bilateral visa agreement will enhance trade and tourism, as well as strengthen important business and cultural ties, enabling both the UK and India to capitalise on future global opportunities.”
Fact sheet on Indian Tourism to UK: