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UK to increase visas, flights to India

Our Bureau

Bangalore , Nov. 2

ANTI-OUTSOURCING sentiments notwithstanding, the UK is intensifying its efforts to attract more IT professionals and investments into the country.

The British High Commissioner in India, Sir Michael Arthur, on Tuesday announced that Britain would increase visa issuance to India. "The multiple-entry visas are up by 30 per cent with 3,00,000 visas this year having been issued. This is more than double the number as compared to other countries. We plan to issue more multiple-entry visas to India," he told the media at the ongoing IT.Com here.

There will also be more flights to the UK from India, according to Sir Michael. The country plans to double the number of flights to India, which would also include direct services from Bangalore, Kochi and Hyderabad and additional flights from the four metros. Currently, there are 19 flights from India to the UK every week. If plans fructify then the sub-continent will have 40 flights operating from the UK by mid-2005. Interestingly, there are 4,00,000 visitors from the UK to India every year.

Inviting more Indian entrepreneurship and investments into the UK, Sir Michael positioned UK as the gateway to Europe. Advantages like the availability of a skilled workforce, developed and deregulated telecom infrastructure and conducive business environment and low tax rates make the UK an attractive investment destination.

"We invite more investments from India and our unique selling proposition is the accessibility to other European markets. If foreign investments to Europe are considered then 60 per cent of all Indian investment is channelised to the UK," informed Sir Michael.

According to the British High Commissioner, last year the UK had 811 new projects and of this India had invested in 28 projects, followed by China with 23 projects. "There is scope for more investments by India into the UK. We have seen increased investments (from India) over the last year. There has been an increase of 47 per cent," he said.

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