Britain is pressing ahead with a controversial trial of a scheme to make visitors from six countries pay a £3,000 bond. The proposal had caused an international storm as well as complaints from businesses. But the Government has decided to press ahead with the proposal in developments announced today.
The government said it would begin a pilot in November 2013 to impose visa restrictions on six Commonwealth nations, including India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nigeria, Sri Lanka and Ghana. Even the Prime Minister David Cameron was understood to have dismayed by the proposal which now comes into force in November.
Luxury goods retailers have denounced the plan as an “insulting deterrent”, which will hit sales and further damage Britain’s international reputation. Nigerians are the sixth biggest spenders on luxury goods in the UK. “It’s embarrassing that our country would consider these measures against visitors who spend so much in our stores,” said Michael Ward, managing director of Harrods. “There seems to be a deeply frustrating attitude in Westminster that they should do whatever they can to actively prevent people coming to the UK.”
Julia Carrick, chief executive of Walpole, the luxury goods consortium, said: “We should be welcoming these lucrative visitors from Nigeria – not putting up barriers to entry.”