UK plans to require foreign visitors to Northern Ireland to secure electronic travel authorizations in advance will hurt the UK region’s efforts to lure tourists across the Irish border, industry leaders have told MPs.
The plans included in the UK Citizenship and Borders Actwould mean that the hundreds of thousands of American tourists who land at Dublin Airport annually would have to fill out online forms and pay fees before they could legally travel there Belfast barely 100 km away. Such trips are currently seamless.
Foreign travelers and tour operators have long avoided Northern Ireland because of its violence and instability. But the 1998 peace accord that ended The Troubles committed the Irish government to encouraging visitors to include the north in their itineraries. Dublin and Belfast have jointly established an island-wide agency focused on this goal. Tourism Ireland.
Great Britain Post-Brexit Law the establishment of a new online system for UK visitors will unnecessarily complicate these efforts, Tourist guide tells the House of Commons Committee on Northern Ireland.
They said the Conservatives’ pro-England proposals ignore the reality that most foreign tourists, including more than three-quarters of Americans, only visit Northern Ireland as excursions from the Republic of Ireland. This includes impromptu travel by train, bus or rental car to visit Belfast Titanic attraction or “Game of Thrones” filming locations.
“People want to travel stress-free. If anything is perceived as an additional obstacle or obstacle, people stay in the Republic of Ireland where they can travel around and not incur any additional administration or costs,” said Joanne Stuart, Managing Director of the Northern Ireland Tourism Alliance.
Shane Clarke, chief executive of Tourism Ireland, which oversees the agency’s efforts to encourage visits to Northern Ireland, said she has just interviewed a dozen tour operators in Ireland, France, Germany and the US about Britain’s intention to welcome tourists visiting Ireland , to require payment of Electronic Travel Authorizations before traveling north.
Everyone expressed “disbelief that this has been proposed,” he said, predicting that tour operators facing new “barriers and uncertainties” would sideline Northern Ireland in favor of Cork, Kerry and Galway.
This would be “extremely detrimental to Northern Ireland,” he said, “because it’s a very exciting part of the island of Ireland’s itinerary, but not a destination in its own right.”
He highlighted other impracticalities, such as the fact that visits to parts of the Republic of Ireland were their own Wild Atlantic Way coast, especially Donegal in the northwest, mean drive through Northern Ireland to get there.
Immigration Secretary Kevin Foster defended the policy, telling the committee the UK was simply trying to replicate the kind of online travel requirements that are already in place in the United States, Australia and New Zealand and will soon go live for visa-free third-country visitors to the European Union.
He said Northern Ireland could not have travel documentation rules other than those that apply in the UK.
“We are the British government. We are not the UK government,” he said, stressing that London is working with Dublin to make the future functioning of the electronic travel authorization system as simple as possible.
“Our default position is that anyone who is not a British or Irish citizen must have it.”
https://www.politico.eu/article/uk-border-plans-will-cut-tourists-to-northern-ireland-mps-told/?utm_source=RSS_Feed&utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=RSS_Syndication Britain's post-Brexit border plans will reduce tourists to Northern Ireland, MPs said - POLITICO