Clare T.D. and Chairman of the Oireachtas Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade Pat Breen T.D. said today (Tuesday) that the launch of the joint visa initiative between Ireland and the United Kingdom which was announced by the Minister for Justice and Equality, Frances Fitzgerald T.D. will make it easier for Chinese and Indian Visitors to access County Clare.
The British Irish Visa Scheme which is building on the success of the Irish Short-Stay Visa Waiver Programme which was introduced in 2011 will allow for travel to and around the Common Travel Area (CTA) on a single visa. As matters stand, many overseas tourists and business visitors who wish to visit both Ireland and the UK, including Northern Ireland, need separate Irish and UK visas.
From the autumn the objective is that visitors from China and India
will be able to travel freely within the Common Travel Area using either an Irish or UK visa. This will mean that tourists, business visitors etc. will be able, for the first time, to visit both Ireland and the UK, including Northern Ireland, on a single visa.
“This is very good news for County Clare as it will make it easier to Chinese and Indian Tourists to visit here. Since the high profile visit of the now President of the People’s Republic of China, Xi Jinping to County Clare, there has been an upsurge in the number of Chinese Tourists interested in coming here to visit such places as the Cliffs of Moher. And our tourism profile was boosted in China even further in April last when the Burren and Cliffs of Moher Geopark was shortlisted as a finalist in the Tourism for Tomorrow Awards which were announced in Hainan in China.
The number of Chinese people who make international trips has grown from 10 million in 2000 to 83 million in 2012; and forecasts for the next decade suggest an even greater rise with the number of Indian people who travel abroad expected to reach over 50 million by 2020.
Now that these tourists from China and India who visit the UK will be able to travel on to Ireland without the cost or hassle of applying for a separate visa puts County Clare in a prime position to attract these additional visitors particularly given the number of UK destinations which are served from Shannon Airport. “
The technical and other arrangements to allow for the commencement of the Scheme in China and India this autumn are being progressed with the UK Home Office. As appropriate, the Irish authorities are also working with the authorities of the countries concerned on the practical implementation of the Scheme.
The British Irish Visa Scheme will first be available to nationals of China and India.
Further rollout of the Scheme to other countries will be agreed between the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service of the Department of Justice and Equality and the UK Home Office.
The British Irish Visa Scheme in practice – the Scheme will operate through a reciprocal visa arrangement, whereby Ireland and the UK recognise short-stay visas issued by the other for travel to their jurisdiction. This will allow the holder of such a visa issued by the country of first arrival thereafter to travel freely between Ireland and the UK, including Northern Ireland, for the duration of that visa.
For example, a visa required tourist who wishes to visit both Dublin and Belfast will be able to apply for an Irish short-stay visa which will allow them to travel directly to Dublin and then onwards to Northern Ireland without having to obtain a separate UK visa. Also if they are
returning to Ireland following a visit to the UK, they will not require a re-entry visa.
The British Irish Visa Scheme will replace Ireland’s Short-stay Visa Waiver Programme, introduced in July, 2011, which has proved to be a significant success. That Programme allows nationals of 18 countries to travel from the UK to Ireland using their UK visa. The number of visitors from the countries in question grew by 68% from 2010 to 2013. The British Irish Visa Scheme will allow travel throughout the UK and Ireland, whereas the Irish Visa Waiver Programme allowed travel in one direction only.