This is Tourism Ireland’s corporate website. 
If you are looking for information about holidays on the island of Ireland, please visit

04 Feb 2019

Visa-free travel drives increase in UAE visitors

~ Middle East travel company sees +63.5% increase in business to Ireland ~

Since the announcement of visa-free travel for Emiratis to Ireland in early 2018, a major travel company in the Middle East – dnata Travel – has experienced a +63.5% increase in year-on-year travel from the UAE to Ireland.  

A new report for 2018, compiled by dnata Travel, shows a +55% increase in travel arrangements to Ireland made within 14 days in advance of travelling and a +9% increase in bookings made within three days of travel, indicating the benefit of visa restrictions being lifted. In addition, the report reveals a +9% increase in solo travellers, with bednights and average booking spend also experiencing a year-on-year growth.

Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland, said: “The introduction of visa-free travel from the UAE to Ireland was an historic step for Ireland-Emirati relations, helping to grow tourism from this important emerging market. We’re delighted that dnata Travel has experienced an increase in business to Ireland since visa-free travel was introduced, with more of their clients than ever before having the opportunity to experience our diverse and rich landscape, warm welcome and vibrant culture. dnata Travel is a key partner for Tourism Ireland in the UAE and we look forward to working with them again in 2019 and welcoming even more of their clients to Ireland.”

Antonio Fellino, Vice President of Retail & eCommerce for dnata Travel, commented: “With a combination of stark landscape differences and striking cultural similarities, Ireland is becoming a hotspot for UAE travellers. Ireland provides the perfect setting year-round for those looking to escape the desert heat to experience the lush green landscapes of the island. A truly family-focused destination, Ireland is popular with families and also couples, with 59% of travellers with us booking in pairs.” 

Dublin has proven itself to be the most popular destination for GCC travellers, showing an +80% increase in bednight bookings, while Cork, Galway and Kerry have also shown growth in visitor numbers. 

Tourism Ireland’s 2019 sales mission to the UAE is under way this week. A delegation of tourism companies from Ireland is participating – meeting and concluding deals with tour operators and travel agents in Abu Dhabi and Dubai. They are also meeting influential travel journalists and bloggers, highlighting why the island of Ireland is such a wonderful choice for a holiday. 

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 around 325,000 people across the island.
  • In 2018, we welcomed around 11.2 million overseas visitors to the island of Ireland (+6% on 2017), delivering revenue of approximately €6.1 billion (+10%).
  • Tourism Ireland’s international website is, 29 market sites available in 11 language versions around the world, which attracted 20+ million visitors in 2018.