Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 1 October 2014

UK visa move 'will boost tourism'

Alan Shatter said the move by the UK to ease visa restrictions on Chinese visitors will help boost tourism in Ireland too

A relaxation of border controls for Chinese visitors into the UK will help boost Irish tourism, Justice Minister Alan Shatter has claimed.

In an attempt to attract investment, London announced this week that it will ease visa restrictions for Chinese citizens travelling to Europe and on to Britain.

Mr Shatter said the move - along with a recently introduced visa waiver scheme in Ireland - will help bring more tourists and business people here.

"The UK announcement is to be welcomed as a very positive development as the more Chinese visitors there are to the UK the broader the pool of potential visitors to Ireland who can avail of the Irish Visa Waiver Programme," he said.

"It is anticipated that the changes the UK is making to their visa processes will encourage more Chinese visitors to come here on business or as tourists."

The Irish Visa Waiver Programme, introduced two years ago, allows nationals from 17 countries, including China, t o travel to Ireland without a visa if they pass through UK border controls.

Tourism chiefs said the scheme has already boosted visitor numbers from those countries by almost a third.

Officials are working on further visa arrangements between Ireland and the UK - known as the Common Travel Area - to be brought in next year which will make it easier for overseas visitors to travel freely between the countries.

"In what will be the most fundamental and important development in the operation of the Common Travel Area since the foundation of the State, this historic initiative has the potential to attract tens of thousands of additional visitors to Ireland every year," said Mr Shatter.

"This unprecedented opportunity for Ireland will further cement our global position as a top international tourism and business destination."

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