Tourists over 66 get free travel in Ireland
OLDER TOURISTS will enjoy free rail travel around the State following the introduction of a new scheme yesterday.
All overseas visitors aged 66 or over, from anywhere in the world, will be able to benefit from unlimited travel on mainline, Dart and commuter trains in the scheme, developed by Fáilte Ireland in conjunction with Iarnród Éireann.
The scheme was announced by the Government as part of the budget in December, in a bid to increase overseas visitor numbers.
It is similar to the free travel scheme for Irish people aged 66 and over, but does not include free bus or Luas travel.
It also differs from the scheme for Irish residents when it comes to cross-Border travel. Irish senior citizens travelling from Dublin to Belfast are entitled to free rail travel for the entire journey, but overseas visitors will only be entitled to free travel for the portion of their journey in this State. They will have to purchase a ticket for the remainder of their trip, from Dundalk onwards.
The scheme is initially for a one-year period, but will be subject to review and is expected to continue indefinitely if the demand is there.Tourists can access the scheme by visiting the Fáilte Ireland website, www.discoverireland.com, to arrange for a “Golden Trekker” reservation. They will be asked for details such as their date of birth and passport or national identity card number. Their Golden Trekker reservation can then be used to book their free Golden Trekker tickets when they arrive.
Tickets can be purchased in blocks of four days, depending on the length of stay. A four-day unlimited ticket is normally worth €100.
Visitors who do not pre-book the reservation can also avail of the scheme when they arrive by calling to a Fáilte Ireland tourist information office.
Fáilte Ireland’s Redmond O’Donoghue said the initiative was a very encouraging and constructive development.
“It will help strengthen the appeal of Ireland among some visitors, and Fáilte Ireland believes it will pay dividends to Irish tourism longer term.”
Iarnród Éireann chief executive Dick Fearn said the scheme would give Irish tourism a boost in a difficult time.
“As well as providing tourists with rail travel facilities, they will also benefit from the unique perspective our network gives of the beautiful Irish countryside.”
The Times of Indiahas already highlighted the scheme, following Taoiseach Brian Cowen’s remarks on it earlier this month.