Fine Gael Donegal East TD, Joe McHugh, has said that the UK-Ireland Memorandum of Understanding on visa data exchange, which is being signed by the Irish and UK governments today, builds on Government plans to attract spin-off tourism to Ireland from the London 2012 Olympic Games. The London 2012 Olympic Games are expected to generate £2 billion for the British tourism industry.
“Today’s Memorandum of Understanding on visa data exchange greatly boosts the British-Irish tourism Visa Waiver Programme launched by the Government last summer, and should help to attract spin-off tourism to Ireland from the London 2012 Olympic Games. Today’s Visa Exchange Agreement will prevent manipulation by illegal immigrants of the unique British-Irish travel arrangements that will apply to tourists during the Olympic Games.
“Tourism has been a key plank of the economic recovery proposals put forward by Fine Gael in recent years, and tapping into Ireland’s strategic location close to Britain is central to the Government’s strategy. The Fine Gael Border Forum published proposals in July 2010 for joint British-Irish tourism visa arrangement and it was a key commitment in our Party’s 2011 General Election Manifesto. Within three months of taking office the Minister for Justice, Alan Shatter TD, announced the British-Irish Tourism Visa Waiver Programme, which exempts visitors to Britain from 14 countries from applying for separate Irish tourism visas when visiting this country between July 2011 and October 2012.
“The London 2012 Olympic Games are a critical opportunity for our country’s tourism industry; the Games are expected to generate £2 billion for Great Britain’s tourism industry, and Ireland must position itself to take advantage of this influx of visitors.
“The Visa Waiver Programme removes red-tape barriers to Olympic Games spin-off tourism, and today’s Memorandum of Understanding on Visa Exchanges will protect the integrity of our immigration laws.
“The Irish tourism industry must now take advantage of this great opportunity on our doorstep.”