By Simon WalkerBBC News and BBC News online editorLONDON – In the days since the start of the UK’s visa-free travel regime, hotels have started to roll out the red carpet to people hoping to visit.
The number of UK tourists visiting hotels in the past few months has been around 3 million.
However, the visa-opening programme, which was meant to be permanent, was halted after a court case in February that challenged the constitutionality of the legislation, which saw ministers announce the scheme would remain in place for three months.
It was also the first time since the programme began in 2004 that a government had not issued a national security exemption to the programme, despite the fact that the number of foreign visitors to the UK in 2017 was the highest ever.
The government had already introduced a similar scheme in 2014.
While the UK has had a fairly successful visa-reform programme, it is likely that there will be more problems ahead.
In the days after the announcement of the visa restrictions, a number of prominent British universities and the Royal College of Nursing urged caution.
They pointed to the increased risk of terrorism, the increased burden of social exclusion for some foreign workers and the impact of visa restrictions on the economies of key European countries.
Many of those concerned with the visa regime also pointed out that it has been criticised by some British MPs, such as Labour MP Yvette Cooper.
Theresa May, who is a former home secretary, also has a long-standing relationship with the universities, with whom she has held a number-one position since becoming home secretary.
On Tuesday, the prime minister spoke to the universities in a meeting chaired by Sir Peter Cosgrove, a former UK ambassador to the United States and a prominent advocate of the policy.
May also invited them to meet in London, and in the afternoon, on her first visit to the capital since she became prime minister, the government announced it would not extend the extension.
Theresa March has said the visa programme has been a success.
“It has provided a welcome boost to the economy of our country and has made the UK a better place to live,” she said.
“It will be a privilege to meet all those who have made this a success.”
Theresa Villiers is an independent research fellow at the London School of Economics and Political Science and author of ‘The Visa and the Future of Britain’ (Chatto and Windus, 2016).
Follow her on Twitter:@MargaretVillas