Chinese tourists visiting the UK will contribute £1 billion a year to the local economy by 2017, according to a Barclays report on tourism dynamics.

Chinese visitors spent £549 million in 2013, with an 84% increase expected over the coming four years.

The increase has been explained by a combination of China’s growing middle class and a simplification of the UK’s tourist visa.

Richard Lowe, head of retail and wholesale at Barclays, told The Telegraph:

“There should be no limit to the number of Chinese tourists who can visit. There’s a number of plans being put in place to allow that to happen and it’s important that those are followed through and as many Chinese visas who want visas do get them and can come and support the UK economy.”

Previously, Chinese tourists were subjected to a lengthy visa process, for which they were forced to have their fingerprints taken, pay higher fees, and submit a long application.

In October 2013, Chancellor George Osborne announced that Chinese tourists would now be allowed to apply for a UK visa with a single, simplified “Schengen” application form.

Mr Low said that he expected UK retailers to start stocking products that specifically target the Chinese market:

“There will be some catering towards Chinese tastes and retailers will be looking at what Chinese tourists would like to purchase.”

Photo by Esparta Palma