SNP Euro Candidate Toni Giugliano has called for a British Isles Schengen-zone to attract tourism and business from China and South East Asia.
It has long been argued that Scottish and UK business is losing millions each year because entrance to the UK requires a separate visa to the rest of the EU.
Chinese tourists, who can enter the Schengen zone with a single visa, are forced to apply for an additional and more expensive visa to enter the UK. This has resulted in the UK receiving the lowest number of Chinese tourists in Europe.
Giugliano said that extending the UK-Ireland Common Travel Zone to tourists as a way to compete with Schengen would provide a significant economic boost.
He stated that an independent Scotland would add clout to a visa-free zone.
“Chinese and South East Asian tourists are the highest spending tourists in the world and we’re losing out because most of them opt for the more cost-effective Schengen visa.
“Given the UK’s reluctance to join Schengen it makes sense to extend the Common Travel Area to tourists. Our Schengen counterparts have a huge advantage over us – each year we’re potentially losing £millions.
“With increasing trade links between Scotland and China and Taiwan we need to ease burdensome visa application processes and make it easier for Asian business and tourists to invest here.
“Post independence a British Isles Schengen-zone would be even more attractive and competitive, giving tourists the opportunity to visit three countries on these islands and not just continental Europe.”
According to a Travelzoo report, 1.15 million Chinese tourists went to France, and only 180,000 to Britain last year.
It has concluded that the British tourism industry will suffer a loss of 1.5 billion dollars every year due to its deficiency of Chinese tourists.