Michael Ward, the Managing Director of luxury department store Harrods has warned that government policies are deterring wealthy visitors from the UK.
Ward has cautioned that George Osbourne’s claims around Britain becoming China’s “best partner in the West” is “total twaddle”. He has said that the onerous Chinese visa application process, stamp duty increases and sanctions on ‘non-doms’ are in fact turning visitors away.
Ward is amongst a group of UK bosses who have pledged to create several thousand jobs if the government agrees to extend UK hours.
Recent figures suggest that Chinese tourists are big spenders in the UK. This summer an analysis of Chinese Visa Card spending showed an increase of 44.5% in money spent in the UK in July, making Chinese tourists the second highest spending tourists in the country, behind Americans. It is expected that the retail industry will soon become much more accommodating of Chinese visitors during peak holiday weeks.
Despite this, Ward believes “we should be more welcoming to different nationalities…”
“London is doing OK, but I wouldn’t say it’s doing well. There are certain worrying developments," he continued.”
“It’s a signal. It’s like walking into someone’s house – you get a feeling for whether you are welcome or not. It’s just a little bit of something not very pleasant.”