15 May 2012

Joint Irish-UK visa urged

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Ireland's minister for tourism, Leo Varadkar, has proposed a joint Irish-UK visa which would allow international tourists to visit both countries without having to apply for a separate visa.

UK visa

Minister for Tourism Leo Varadkar claims both Ireland and the UK would benefit from a joint visa arrangement.

Currently internationals tourists have to obtain both an Irish and a UK visa separately if they wish to visit both countries but, as British and Irish citizens can freely travel between the two as part of the Common Travel Area, Mr Varadkar feels international tourists should be able to too.

"There are real opportunities to attract more high-value, high-spending visitors from rapidly growing economies like Brazil, India, China and Russia to both Britain and Ireland," said Mr Varadkar.

The Irish minister said Britain and Ireland could establish a 'mini-Schengen' area where only one, universal visa was needed for travel between the two countries similar to the European arrangement which allows travel between 20 countries currently part of the Schengen Agreement on a single visa.

Under current legislation, international travellers can secure a visa waiver which allows long-haul travellers to the UK to pass in to Ireland without the need for a further visa although Mr Varadkar feels this is not enough.

"While the visa waiver is a step forward, it should be just that, one step of many to come.

"It makes no sense to me that a tourist flying into Dublin from Dubai needs a separate visa to travel to the Titanic Experience in Belfast and to see the Giant's Causeway. And it makes even less sense to the tourist."

Ireland is currently trying to secure a better business relationship with Britain in an effort to help boost its struggling economy and Mr Varadkar's proposal comes in the wake of VAT cuts for the tourism and leisure sector to just 9% from the 23% standard rate.


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