Assembly to debate single visa scheme for all of Ireland
The Assembly will debate a Sinn Féin motion on Monday calling for the introduction of a single visa scheme for all visitors to the island of Ireland.
The motion follows the success of the Short Stay Visa Waiver Scheme, which was introduced by the Dublin government in July 2011 and allows visitors from 16 emerging markets going to Britain or the north of Ireland to travel around the rest of the island without the need for a separate visa.
Speaking in advance of the motion, Sinn Féin's Tourism spokesperson and Deputy Chair of the Enterprise, Trade & Investment Committee Phil Flanagan MLA said:
"Having two separate visa schemes operating on the island is impacting on our attractiveness as a destination for both tourists and business travelers.
"People coming here from countries such as China, India or Russia will want to see as much of the country as possible. They will not want to be restricted to certain parts of it or have to complete additional and unnecessary paperwork.
"This is even more important now given the number of flights from qualifying countries such as the United Arab Emirates that arrive in Dublin Airport.
"I am relaxed about whether such a scheme would be administered solely in Ireland or if it would cover Ireland and Britain; that is something that the Irish and British governments need to agree upon.
"What needs to do is make this place as attractive as possible for all potential visitors, particularly those from emerging markets, if we are to achieve the ambitious targets set out in the Programme for Government. The introduction of a single visa scheme for all of Ireland would certainly aid that." CRÍOCH/END