LONDON: The visitors applying for a visa to visit the UK will be forced to pay nearly £6 for every email they send. The Home Office of UK has announced the outsourcing of of its customer enquiries service for visa applications to a private firm, Sitel UK. Sitel will charge £5.48 per email sent, change opening hours and reduce the number of languages services are available in. Services will be offered in English, Mandarin, Cantonese, Arabic, French, Hindi, Russian and Spanish.
The Home Office says the languages no longer offered; make up only four per cent of the total number of volume of calls and emails received.
It says the move will “help the government reduce costs and ensure those who benefit directly from the UK immigration system make an appropriate contribution”.
But the move is likely to affect the UK tourism industry, which was estimated to be worth £126.9bn in 2013 and provided 9.6 per cent of total jobs, with foreign holidaymakers potentially choosing destinations where it is easier to get a visa.
For instance, Chinese tourists make up a growing percentage of visitors to the UK and made up 2.7 per cent of total British tourism spending in 2014 but will be forced to apply for a visa through this process.
The move is likely to worry the hospitality industry which is already concerned about the impact of Brexit as many companies are reliant on the EU migrant workforce.