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Tourism: Visas

Volume 503: debated on Wednesday 13 January 2010

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what recent discussions (a) Ministers and (b) officials in his Department have had with their counterparts in the Home Office on the effect on the tourism industry of the cost of visas. (310274)

The Government strives to strike the right balance between maintaining the most secure and effective border controls in the world, and ensuring that the visa fees structure does not inhibit the UK's ability to attract those migrants and visitors that make a valued contribution. The Home Office reviews fees and charges annually to reflect changes to operating costs and to its strategic approach. Fees are set following a full discussion with departments, including DCMS.

As part of that process, my officials attend regular meetings of the cross-Whitehall Fees Committee, chaired by the Home Office, which last met in December. The Minister for identity at the Home Office and I also met in December to discuss the impact of visa processes on UK tourism. This followed our discussion at a meeting of the ministerial group on tourism in November. We will continue to work together to ensure a proper balance between effective border controls and a vibrant visitor economy.