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Pledge to improve visa service for Chinese tourists is good news


UFI IBRAHIM is chief executive officer of British Hospitality Association


HOTELS First ‘care-hotel’ opening in Stoke


A new ‘care-hotel’ which claims to be the first of its kind in England is to open in Stoke-on-Trent. The £2m Cambrian Care


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hina’s role as an economic pow- erhouse and key player in the global market is well-known. It’s the world’s second biggest


economy and the largest exporter of goods. Experts suggest that China still has the potential to grow for another two decades. So news that the home secretary, Teresa


May, is seeking to bring in a joint visa appli- cation for the UK which will benefit Chinese tourists can only be good. Indeed, as China continues its rapid


expansion, Chinese tourists are seeking new experiences, largely through overseas travel. According to the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), China is the world’s 3rd largest tourism spender and in 2012, spend by Chinese tourists abroad jumped by more than 42 per cent to £6.7bn. Te EU welcomed more than one million visitors from China last year; that’s a signif- icantly higher number than the UK. Visiting the UK has generally been per-


ceived by Chinese tourists as expensive and complicated and it is estimated that the UK’s loss to competitors in 2012 was £1.2bn. All the evidence points to UK visa policy and visa processing being one of the largest bar- riers to growing the UK’s market share of tourism from China. However there are pos- itive steps being taken. Te BHA, together with support from the


UKCVA, the CBI, Institute of Directors and the British Chamber of Commerce has been proactively lobbying this issue, campaigning for swiſt visa reform which makes it easier and less expensive for Chinese tourists to visit the UK. In addition, the BHA has been working directly with the Home Office and the UK Border Agency to identify the issues and their impacts on the UK economy. By 2023, China will be the largest out-


bound tourism economy in the world. Terefore, the opportunity for Britain to grow tourism receipts and jobs should be a top priority for UK decision-makers. We will continue to campaign on this issue until further changes are made to enable Chinese as well as Russian and Indian visitor num- bers to start increasing in line with other European countries.


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Hotel is an alternative respite care centre. Designed specif- ically for people with various health needs, the hotel offers 24-hour nursing and personal care with the luxurious sur- roundings of a deluxe hotel. Run by housing and care


specialist, Choices Housing Association, the 16-bedroom facility has been built on the site of a former probation ser- vice office in Bucknall. “We are the first care-hotel in the UK,” said


Te hotel is specifically designed for people with special health needs


Choices chair, Mike Lawton. “When we first started dreaming about this two and a half years ago, we wanted to create something that didn’t look like a care home or a hospital.” Each room is fully equipped with hoists,


high-low beds and pressure relief mattresses, and there is a call system fitted throughout the building. Also included is a lounge, sensory garden


and dining options. The facility officially opens its doors 22 November. Details: http://lei.sr?a=M3W9M


Travelodge asks councils to take part in joint ventures


Budget hotel operator Travelodge has writ- ten to 124 councils inviting them to borrow money from central government to regener- ate land with its hotels. This initiative follows the launch of Aylesbury Travelodge last week. Te 81-bed


property is the chain’s 18th location in Yorkshire and is part of an £18m regener- ation project, financed by the Public Work Loan Board, which lends money at a low interest rate to regenerate surplus land. Details: http://lei.sr?a=K4U6C


Hotel commission fees offer ‘little in return’


Hotel guests are paying hun- dreds of millions of pounds in commission fees to book- ing agents for little in return, according to the 2014 Good Hotel Guide. Te guide’s editors, Adam


Raphael and Desmond Balmer, say that guests who reserve rooms via agents are paying over the odds because hotels have to pay 15 per cent plus VAT on their gross rev- enue for each booking. Te guide cites the hospi-


Te industry’s reliance on web-based agents is causing price inflation


tality industry’s increasing reliance on web-based third party agents as a primary cause of price inflation. Te editors said for small owner-managed


hotels, the sort in which the guide specialises, commission fees inflate costs at the expense of guests who are unaware that they would


Read Leisure Opportunities online: www.leisureopportunities.co.uk/digital


usually get a better deal by booking directly. Tey added: “Many hotels claim that they


have to use booking agents to fill empty rooms but few analyse whether they really bring addi- tional guests or merely cream off revenue.” Details: http://lei.sr?a=T5v8T


Twitter: @leisureopps © CYBERTREK 2013


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