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Will Heathrow's passport control queues damage UK tourism?

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The story follows news yesterday that the Border Agency took a directive from the Home Secretary too far by relaxing border controls on non-EU nationals during this summer's peak travel period.  It is thought the Agency may react by imposing strict security checks in peak times over the coming year which will include the summer of 2012 when London hosts the Olympics.  Strict border controls mean long queues which can apparently be as long as two or three hours at Heathrow - this makes US border controls look like a walk in the park and inevitably puts people off visiting the UK. 

Bad news travels fast.  So no matter how good a time visitors to London may have, they will always go home and relay the worst parts of their trip to friends, family and colleagues.  Those intent on travelling to London for business next summer may choose to go elsewhere, whether it be because of excessive waits at passport control or inflated hotel prices:

We may love to queue in Britain but we do not expect to have to queue for long and neither should those visiting us from foreign shores just to get into the country in the first place, not least because of the potential harm to the country's reputation, tourism and wider economy.

Chris Deacon

Solicitor - Claims Abroad team

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