Irish and British governments to trial common tourist visa this year
Move part of plan to draw more high-spending visitors to both countries
The report follows on from a joint statement on co-operation issued in March 2012 by Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Prime Minister David Cameron
The Irish and British governments plan to pilot a single visa for travel to the two countries this year in a bid to boost tourism to both countries.
According to a report on how the Republic and UK can benefit from greater economic co-operation, the two governments are develping a common travel area visa to facilitate travel to and between both countries.
The report states that the work is now at an advanced stage. The British ambassador, Dominick Chilcott, said yesterday the two governments expect to begin piloting the common travel visa later this year.
Before such a visa could become a reality, the two jurisdictions need to agree on common application centres and on issues such as collecting electronic fingerprints and security data.
In 2011, the Republic waived visa requirements for tourists from 17 non-EU countries, including China, once they had a UK visa. A 21 per cent increase in visitors from those states over the first year of the waiver programme prompted the Government to extend it to 2016.
Greater collaboration on tourism is one of the areas higlighted in the report, which the two governments commissioned from PA Consulting and Cambridge Econometrics.
The document indicates that both countries need to work on making themselves more attractive to travellers from long-haul destinations, specifically, China, whose tourists are known to be high-spending.
The global tourist industry is set to grow by 50 per cent between now and 2030, with half of that coming from China alone.
However, the report indicates that both are falling behind in the race to attract business from there. It suggests that France attracts one quarter more Chinese tourists than Britain.
“Resources could be pooled to understand why both countries’ products are not as appealing as they could be,” the report says.
It adds that once they have arrived at a perfect fit, both could work with tour operators to identify opportunities. One area it suggests the two countries could exploit is English-language training, as there is demand for this in Asia.
The report is due to be published shortly and follows on from a joint statement on co-operation between the two countries issued in March 2012 by Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Prime Minister David Cameron.
The statement committed the governments to evaluating the economic ties between the two states and the opportunities for mutually beneficial co-operation. The researchers spoke to policy makers, experts and business people when compiling the report.
Along with tourism, key areas covered include agriculture and food, research and innovation, and energy.