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06 Oct 2014

Tourism Ireland welcomes British-Irish visa scheme

New joint visa initiative between Ireland and the United Kingdom will help boost visitor numbers from emerging tourism markets

Tourism Ireland has welcomed the new British-Irish Visa Scheme launched today on behalf of the Irish and British Governments, by Frances Fitzgerald TD, Irish Minister for Justice and Equality, and by Theresa May MP, British Home Secretary, at the Irish Embassy in London. Representatives of Tourism Ireland, as well as key British trade and media contacts, were in attendance.

The new joint visa programme will enable visitors from China and India to travel freely between Ireland and the United Kingdom using the same travel documents i.e. using either an Irish or UK visa. This is a significant step, as it will mean Chinese and Indian visitors will be able – for the first time – to visit both Ireland and the UK, including Northern Ireland, on a single visa of either country. These changes will make it easier and more attractive than ever before for Chinese and Indian visitors to come to Ireland and the UK and to travel without restrictions throughout the island of Ireland.

The scheme comes into effect in time for bookings for the 2015 summer season. Welcoming the British-Irish Visa Scheme, Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland, said: “The introduction of the British-Irish Visa Scheme is really good news, making it easier than ever before for visitors from China and India to visit the island of Ireland. It is a significant step in helping us to grow visitor numbers from these markets – whether those visitors wish to travel here for sightseeing, golf or as business tourists.

“For the island of Ireland, the majority of our overseas visitors come from Great Britain, North America and Mainland Europe, and while this will continue, it is important that we expand our focus beyond these markets and look to the long-term opportunities presented by new tourism markets, particularly China and India, which we believe will play an increasingly important role for travel and tourism. Given that visitors from these markets are travelling a considerable distance, and often want to include more than one destination on their itinerary, it makes sense to make it as easy as possible for them to visit both Ireland and the UK on a single visa. We will be working closely with our colleagues in VisitBritain, to leverage the benefits of the new scheme in both India and China.”

Tourism Ireland will be working hard to promote the new British-Irish Visa Scheme in China and India, with the message that the island of Ireland is very much open for business and visitors are most welcome to our shores. Tourism Ireland will also be collaborating with VisitBritain to present the UK and Ireland as an attractive, accessible combined holiday and business destination, to compete more effectively with countries in the Schengen area.

  HE Dan Mulhall, Irish Ambassador to Great Britain; Theresa May MP, British Home Secretary; Frances Fitzgerald TD, Minister for Justice and Equality; and Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland, at the launch of the British-Irish Visa Scheme in the Irish Embassy in London.

Notes To Editors

  • Tourism Ireland is the organisation responsible for promoting the island of Ireland overseas as a leading holiday destination.
  • Tourism is the island of Ireland’s largest indigenous industry; responsible for in excess of 4% of GNP in the Republic of Ireland and employing approximately 200,000 people.
  • By the end of 2014, we will have welcomed an estimated 8.6 million overseas visitors to the island of Ireland, delivering revenue of about €4.26 billion. Overseas tourism business accounts for 59% of all tourism revenue.
  • Tourism Ireland’s international website is, available in ten different language versions for over 30 individual markets around the world.