WITH more Filipino travelers exploring different places worldwide, the United Kingdom is welcoming record numbers of Filipino visitors to its shores.
According to data provided by British Embassy in the Philippines, there are over 49,000 UK visas issued to Filipinos in the 12 months to March 2014, with a 27 percent growth in tourists and business visitors driving the increase in numbers.
Of this exciting news, British Ambassador to the Philippines Asif Ahmad said, “It is great to see our people-to-people links growing in such a way that we are seeing more Filipinos traveling to the UK not just for sightseeing but also to do business.
“The ‘Great’ campaign we launched last year showcased the UK as a destination that offers a diverse range of attractions from historical sites to modern architectural designs, world class universities and inspiring commercial enterprises. We want to welcome even more Filipino visitors in the coming 12 months,” he added.
The said growth in visitors, according to the ambassador, is clear evidence of the strong credentials the UK has for tourism, culture, sport and innovation. With a wider range of flight options, it has never been easier or faster to get to London from Manila.
Ambassador Ahmad dispelled misconceptions that it is difficult for Filipino travelers to get a British visa.
“Over 90 percent of Filipinos who apply for a tourist or business visit visa are successful. We encourage you to apply early and have with you all the necessary documents when you go for your appointment,” he said.
“Be clear about the purpose of your visit. There are additional services you may want to look into, such as the priority visa service and Prime Time service, for those who need a bit more flexibility,” he advised.
To cater for the growing demand, there have been a number of enhancements to the British visa services in recent times to improve the customer experience and make the journey to the UK an easier one.
These include a bigger and better visa application center in Manila, a new international visa enquiry center, a visa application center in Cebu City that will cater to customers in Visayas and nearby regions, a premium lounge for a more personalized and streamlined service, an optional priority visa service that returns visa decisions, a prime time service for those who need the convenience of an out of hours appointment, a “Passport Passback” service for those who may need to travel or apply for another visa while their British one is being processed, more streamlined visa guidance at www.gov.uk, among many others.
Frequent visitors to the UK may wish to consider applying for a long-term visit visa, according to the British Embassy. The long-term visit visas, which are available for one, two, five and 10 years, will benefit frequent travelers. This has the same conditions as a regular six-month visit visa but is valid for a longer period for you to travel in and out of the UK. This means you will only need to make one application and provide biometrics once for the entire duration of the visa.
Information on UK visa requirements and how to apply is at www.gov.uk/visas-immigration.