Significant Changes to Visitor Visas for Chinese Tourists!

Quick, new press release – PM announces significant changes to visitor visas for Chinese tourists!

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This is good news for both the people of China and the UK.

United kingdom fingerprint flag.

United kingdom fingerprint flag.

 

China fingerprint flag.

China fingerprint flag.

The following information can now be found on the GOV.UK website:

 

“From 2016, new visitor visas for tourists from China will be valid in the UK for 2 years, bringing significant benefits to the UK economy.

  • Extension of standard visitor visas from 6 months to 2 years multiple entry and plans to introduce a new 10 year multiple entry visit visa for the same price
  • Mobile fingerprinting service to be extended to an additional 50 cities to make it easier to apply for a visa
  • Part of government’s ambition to strengthen UK-China relations for the benefit of the whole of Britain

 

The standard 6 month UK visitor visa currently costs £85. The new 2 year visitor visa and the 10 year visitor visa, when it is introduced, will cost the same as the standard visitor visa no matter how visits are made.”

 

This is on top of improvements the government has already made to the visa service for Chinese applications, see below what has already been improved:

 

  • “Extending the reach of our popular on-demand mobile visa service in the country. This service allows customers the convenience of providing their biometric data at one of 17 locations of their choice rather than being required to travel to a visa application centre.
  • Offering 2, 5 and 10 year visas to Chinese customers who travel frequently to the UK, including business visitors. In 2014 there was a 20% growth in demand for these visas.
  • Upgrading our 12 visa application centres and offering out of working hours appointments.
  • Extending our 3 to 5 day priority service.
  • Introducing the passport pass-back service, allowing customers to apply for the UK and Schengen visa at the same time.
  • The launch of a new online application form, with fewer questions, translated guidance and giving the option of pre-populating a Schengen form at the same time.
  • Offering Premium service lounges in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou visa application centres, reducing waiting times for applicants and offering personalised assistance at every stage.
  • Developing a dedicated team based in the British Embassy in Beijing which supports business, tourism and education sectors with their visa needs.
  • Reducing documentary requirements for the Chinese government-endorsed Approved Destination Scheme (ADS) for Chinese tour groups and repeat travellers.
  • In June 2015 the UK and Belgian governments announced a new pilot scheme to further streamline visa application processes for Chinese visitors to the UK, Belgium and the wider Schengen area. Under the new UK-Belgian Visitor Service, Chinese customers are able to submit visa applications for both countries during a single visit to a UK visa application centre (VAC). The new scheme means visitors from China are able to obtain a visa for both the UK and the Schengen area – of which the UK is not a part – without having to visit 2 different application centres.”

 

Visiting Britain will now be easier than ever for the people of China, which will only go towards making British shores a very attractive place to come.

VisitBritain is the name used by the British Tourist Authority to promote everything British and their website is getting more and more popular.

The Chancellor launched the next phase of VisitBritain’s ‘Culture is GREAT campaign’ in China to promote memorable moments visitors can only get in Britain. The campaign will invite Chinese visitors to create, share and upload images of their own experiences.

Catch that image!

Catch that image!

Known in China as ‘Enjoy the GREAT fun times in Britain,’ these images will be shared globally by VisitBritain to inspire fellow travellers to come and experience all that is GREAT about Britain.

The £1.3 million social media campaign aims to reach more than 100 million people.

 The campaign aims to reach more than 100 million people.

The campaign aims to reach more than 100 million people.

While we wait for these much anticipated images, take a look below for some truly amazing sights to see in Britain.

(Photos supplied by diego_torres at Pixabay)

 

Amazing panorama of London.

Amazing panorama of London.

 

Windsor Castle is a royal residence at Windsor in the English county of Berkshire.

Windsor Castle is a royal residence at Windsor in the English county of Berkshire.

 

Stonehenge is a prehistoric monument located in Wiltshire, England, about 2 miles west of Amesbury and 8 miles north of Salisbury.

Stonehenge is a prehistoric monument located in Wiltshire, England, about 2 miles west of Amesbury and 8 miles north of Salisbury.

 

Bodiam Castle is a 14th-century moated castle near Robertsbridge in East Sussex, England.

Bodiam Castle is a 14th-century moated castle near Robertsbridge in East Sussex, England.

 

Portsmouth is the second largest city in the ceremonial county of Hampshire on the south coast of England.

Portsmouth is the second largest city in the ceremonial county of Hampshire on the south coast of England.

 

Oxford, in central southern England, revolves around its prestigious university, established in the 12th century

Oxford, in central southern England, revolves around its prestigious university, established in the 12th century.

 

Brighton, The Royal Pavilion at Night.

Brighton, The Royal Pavilion at Night.

Coach Tours – What to know Before you Go!

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Trafalgar are one of the most best coach tour operators out there and this is reflected in their ever growing popularity. Their attention to detail is renowned and this can be seen in their very useful guides to travelling.

Take a look below on a their guide on what to know before travelling on your remarkable coach tour.

Are airport transfers included?

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Transfers will depend on the trip you choose and vary amongst destinations. In general, if you are joining or departing your guided holiday on the first or last day, return transfers between the airport and hotel are included (excludes itineraries starting and/or ending in London). You’ll find specific information on your Trafalgar itinerary’s page.

Do I need travel insurance?

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Trafalgar strongly recommend that you purchase travel insurance for peace of mind before and during your trip. It’s important that you protect yourself in case of trip cancellations, baggage delays or loss of baggage, and medical expenses.

Will I need a passport?

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Passports are needed when travelling outside of your home country. Your passport should be valid for at least six months beyond the conclusion of your trip.

Will I need a visa?

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You are responsible for obtaining all necessary visas prior to the departure of your trip. Depending on your nationality, you may need visas to enter certain countries included on your trip. Obtaining visas can take up to six weeks prior to your departure. Trafalgar strongly advise that you consult your travel agent and the local Consulate or Embassy of the country you are visiting well in advance to determine which visas they require.

Why do I need to Express Check-In?

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Trafalgar’s Express Check-In helps us provide you with the best possible travel experience, and so we can collect important details. We’ll use the information to tailor your trip, plus we’ll take your passport details and next-of-kin contacts.

When will I receive my booking documents?

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Trafalgar Travel documents are usually sent 21 days prior to your trip’s departure by e-mail.

How much luggage can I bring?

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You can bring one suitcase per person with the dimensions of 76cm x 46cm x 25cm (30” x 18” x 10”) and weight not exceeding 23kg (50 lbs) due to the limited space on the coach. You can also bring one piece of hand luggage, provided it is small enough to take on the Trafalgar coach and does not have telescopic handles.

Is luggage handling provided?

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Trafalgar provide all baggage handling at no extra charge. One suitcase per person will be brought to your hotel room.

Are tips included?

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Trafalgar will check you in, look after your luggage and take care of all hotel porterage, tips and gratuities –whether it is for restaurant staff, chambermaids or porters.

Can I bring a wheelchair on my trip?

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Yes, in most circumstances you’re able to travel with a wheelchair on your trip, as long as you’re travelling with someone who’s willing to provide personal assistance. Please advise Trafalgar at the time of booking if you plan to bring a wheelchair to ensure we can meet your requirements.

Will I need to pack formal clothes?

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This will depend on not only your personal preference, but the destinations you’re visiting and the time of year you’ll be travelling. Trafalgar recommend bringing at least one smart outfit for special evenings.

Will I need any vaccinations?

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This will depend on your trip destinations. Speak to your travel agent or doctor to find out if vaccinations are required for the countries you will be visiting. If you’re taking medication or suffer from any form of illness, ensure you have an adequate supply of medication before departing for your holiday. For more information, Trafalgar recommend that you visit your country’s travel health and advice bureau website.

Coach Tours – What to know While on the Go!

trafalgar_mini

Trafalgar are one of the most best coach tour operators out there and this is reflected in their ever growing popularity. Their attention to detail is renowned and this can be seen in their very useful guides to travelling.

Take a look below on a their handy guide whilst travelling on your remarkable coach tour.

ON THE ROAD

Touring with Trafalgar

Touring with Trafalgar

What are Optional Experiences and when can I book them?

We realise that everyone likes some time to themselves, which is why we’ve left free time on all of our itineraries. You could spend it exploring, eating, shopping or relaxing. Or you could choose one of our Optional Experiences. If you want to get the most out of your destination, our Optional Experiences let you tailor your trip. Your Travel Director will tell you about all of the Optional Experiences available on the first day of your trip. Payment can be made by credit card or cash.

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Why not visit the Moulin Rouge, France

Will I need electrical adapters?

Electrical plugs and outlets differ throughout the world. So Trafalgar recommend bringing a universal travel adapter that’s suitable for the countries you are travelling to.

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Bring a universal travel adapter that’s suitable for the countries you are travelling to.

Will I be able to get laundry done?

Most hotels do offer a laundry service and in some cities Laundromats are also available. However, Trafalgar advise that it’s sensible to try and pack enough clothing to avoid having to do laundry, as it can sometimes be costly or inconvenient.

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Laundromats may be available in some cities.

Is there seat rotation on the coach?

Yes, your  Trafalgar Travel Director will implement a seat rotation system, whereby all guests will rotate their seats on the coach daily. This allows for everyone to experience the spectacular views from different seats, and you’ll have a better opportunity to get to know your fellow travellers.

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Trafalgar have a seat rotation system.

What if I become ill on my trip and am unable to continue?

Your Trafalgar Travel Director will assist you with a doctor’s visit or hospitalisation should you require. Trafalgar has a dedicated Customer Care Department in Europe, or our Operations Department in the relevant country will contact you to offer assistance and advice, coordinate with your travel insurance company and keep in touch until you are able to re-join the trip or return home. This service is included in the cost of your trip; however it is not a replacement for travel insurance, which we strongly advise you to purchase.

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Trafalgar has a dedicated Customer Care Department in Europe.

What if I arrive late and miss a part of the trip?

We regret that no refunds can be made for absences from a trip, including experiences such as missed meals or sightseeing.

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Try not to arrive late.

Can I drink the water in the countries I visit?

In Western Europe, Scandinavia, the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, it’s fine to drink the water from a fresh-supply tap. For other countries, your Trafalgar Travel Director will let you know if it’s okay.

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Always check that the water will be OK to drink.

Can I smoke on the coach?

There is a no smoking policy when on board the coach. We do, however, make plenty of comfort stops.

No smoking policy when on board the coach.

No smoking policy when on board the coach.

 

Global Coach Tours Useful information!

Global Coach Tours specialize is multi-stop tours of several countries which include coach travel, hotels and sightseeing with experienced guides and tour directors. A fully escorted coach tour vacation is an amazing experience and truly unbeatable value! See below some useful information when booking your tour:

 

1.What’s the difference between a cheaper tour and a more expensive tour that appears to cover the same route?

There are more included excursions and meals on first class tours and the hotels are generally better quality and in the best locations for sightseeing. Budget and CostSaver tours often use hotels away from the centre of towns.
Typical CostSaver hotel used by Expat Expore

Typical CostSaver hotel used by Expat Expore

 

2. Are there any discounts available?

We will calculate the best discount available for you where you are eligible for one. e.g. child, triple share, group or early payment.
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Find the best price for you

 

3. Is there any overnight travel and how long do we spend on the bus?

Most tours travel during the daytime only. Departures can be early and are often very early on the first day when leaving from London. Comfort stops will be made every 2-3 hours or by request. There is rarely any travel longer than 3 hours without a stop for sightseeing or a break. Tours are all planned and well paced to maximize sightseeing.
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Cosmos comfy coaches.

 

4. What are the coaches like?

All tour buses are late model executive coaches with reclining seats, air conditioning (some lower prices tours in the UK and Ireland may just have forced air). The windows are large and panoramic. Seat belts are fitted. All first class and premium touring coaches have on board washrooms. Many UK and European buses have both an entrance at the front and another one in the middle, so everyone can board quicker.
Typical Expat explore coach interior.

Typical Expat explore coach interior.

 

5. How do we book optional excursions?

Optional tours are reserved through the tour director whilst on board and cannot be pre-booked before you leave unless this is specifically stated. However, sightseeing in London before and after your tour can be pre-booked via our partners.
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London at twilight.

 

6.What time do the tours depart?

London Departutures: For Trafalgar and Insight tours leaving London they all depart between 5.30am and 7.30am. You must phone the London reception centre a couple of days before to confirm the time and central London meeting point. Expat Explore Tours leave from Greenwich. Cosmos tours leaving from London and heading for a Dover to Calais ferry crossing, depart from the Novotel London West in Hammersmith at 8.45am and return around 5pm. For all other operators and tours leaving from locations other than London, please ask. We offer some tours with and without flights.

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Ferry crossing

 

7.Where do we use the Euro? €

The 19 countries of the eurozone are Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuiania, Luxembourg, Malta, The Netherlands, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain. They have switched to using euro notes and coins, ending the use of their national currencies in shops and banks. The currency consists of seven notes from five to five hundred euros (careful if you get that one!) and eight coins from 1 cent to 2 euros. A euro is divided into 100 cents. The euro is also being used in Andorra, Monaco, San Marino, the Vatican, and French overseas territories including Martinique and Guadalupe in the Caribbean and Reunion in the Indian Ocean.
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Euro money

 

8.Where you might not be able to use the Euro.

Denmark, Sweden and the UK and some recent members of the EU in the east of Europe have not yet adopted the euro – however, they have not ruled out joining in future. The euro may be accepted by major retailers in the UK and Switzerland. So on your tour of Europe it’s now much easier to shop and you won’t have to keep changing money as your travel.
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Denmark do not accept Euros at the moment.

Common Words used by Tour Operators Translated!

Have you ever looked at an Itinerary for a coach tour and wondered what on earth the difference is between VISIT’, ‘VIEW’ and ‘SEE?

Well wonder no more as the guide below should solve any confusion out there!

 

Visit

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This means the tour bus will stop and the groups will visit a specific site. You will then get in-depth sightseeing with a Local Guide or your Travel Director. This includes VIP entry and will vary based on the venue itself.

View

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An opportunity to stretch your legs, take in the sights and capture photos with a brief stop.

See

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See the sight and its surroundings while driving by on the coach.

Sightseeing tour

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A local city guide will accompany passengers on a tour of a city or site.

Orientation tour

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Places of interest are pointed out, allowing passengers to then explore on their own.

‘Why not see’ or ‘perhaps enjoy’

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These phrases usually refer to optional excursions not included in the tour package, but available for an additional fee at competitive prices. Payments are usually made to the Travel Director by credit card or cash whilst on the tour.

Time to explore and discover

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Free time to do as you please.

A day to relax

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No planned activities. Time for optional excursions or other independent activities.

Transfers

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Motor coach or train transportation from the airport to your hotel or city centre.

Local Guides

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Professional guides with specialised expertise in a specific city or region that guide you on a sightseeing tour. They will show you specific sights in more detail while providing vast knowledge on the local area.

Tour Director

Your tour/travel  escort, responsible to see that your tour runs smoothly. He or she travels with you, helping with everything from co-ordinating hotel check-in, language translation, to advice on best restaurants and sights to see.

10 Reasons to go on a Winter Holiday!

Why go on holiday in winter?

Well, there are many reasons why going on a winter holiday is a great idea.

Take a look below to see 10 fab reasons why a winter getaway to Europe is the best way!

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Winter Wonderland

 

1. You can travel for less and view major attractions at a cheaper rate.
Winter is the cheapest time to fly to Europe. Airfare prices drop after the high season, and you get cheaper deals and better service at major attractions and local restaurants.

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Fly Cheaper

 

2. You will have more of Europe to yourself.
Winter and autumn time in Europe means less crowds and and fewer queues. This means you will have extra time to fit more into your itinerary every day and have a complete and satisfying experience of each destination.

Less Crowds

Less Crowds

 

3. You get to see all of Europe (and not just the main attractions).
Travelling in autumn and winter can include visits to places you would not normally have time for. Art galleries, museums and places of worship for example. Plus, because you do not get the stifling summer heat, you would not mind being indoors.

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Visit York minster and the Christmas shop on Stonegate.

 

4. Cultural Paradise.
In Europe the cultural calendar swings into full action during winter. Revel in late night exhibitions, enjoy  the warmth of heated indoor museums and take advantage of the busy schedules at opera houses and theatres.

Take in a Show - enjoy some ballet!

Take in a Show – enjoy some ballet!

 

5. Enchanting Christmas Markets! 
Christmas in Europe is a sight to behold! European capitals have their city squares decked out in festive finery and Christmas markets can be seen in almost every European city. Be mesmerized by Christmas markets in Vienna, Munich, Nuremberg, Bruges, Berlin and Krakow to name a few. Indulge in some some Christmas shopping, enjoy some traditional Glühwein and savour the many delicious Christmas treats available at this time of year!

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Christmas Market in Ulm, Germany

 

6. Food! Glorious Food! 
Talking about food, winter time in Europe is the perfect time to eat, drink and be merry. Top winter treats not too miss are Belgian Waffles and Belgian hot chocolate, German cinnamon stars, Swiss Fondue, gingerbread, and of course, the traditional Glühwein!

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Ginger bread treats

7. Ice skating, sledding and skiing.

Travelling through Europe in winter means you can do activities that are not possible to do in summer. Ice Skating is a must during the festive season and Europe is home to some of the best outdoor ice skating rinks in the world. Sports enthusiast can also indulge in their passion for skiing in the Swiss or French Alps and sledding is a great way to experience the great outdoors in winter.

Why not try dog sledding

Why not try dog sledding

 

8. Winter walking and great photo opportunities

Enjoy the fresh air in the Countryside where the crisp air, freshly fallen snow and frozen lakes will make you want to grab your camera for a snap shot of the wonderful scenery.  The quaint cobbled streets found in the medieval cities of  Europe will make you to stay outside even if the weather is cold!

Taking photos in the snow

Taking photos in the snow

 

9. The locals are in town.

Winter is the perfect season if you are out to meet people! The cafe & pub culture in Europe is on fire over winter months and the locals are everywhere. Meet up for a coffee, beer or wine and soak up the warm atmosphere. It’s the best season to get cozy and chatty inside, and to find out more about the local history and culture of a place!

Cheers!

Cheers!

10. You can experience New Year celebrations in a different country.

European capital cities celebrate the New Year like no other.  Millions of people  gather around major attractions like the Eiffel Tower in France, the Piazza in Florence, or Oosterdok in Amsterdam, counting down the minutes to the New Year and amazing celebrations. Scotland in particular is a popular place to celebrate the new Year, calling it Hogmanay and  throwing one of the biggest parties full of huge firework displays and musical performances.

 New Years Eve celebrations

New Years Eve celebrations

 

So, as you can see, travelling to Europe ‘out of season’ makes absolute sense and can make for a truly amazing experience to cherish and never forget!