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Shatter announces extension of Visa Waiver Programme

The scheme will be extended to include Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as emerging markets like China, India and Gulf regions.

Justice Minister Alan Shatter
Justice Minister Alan Shatter
Image: Niall Carson/PA Wire/Press Association Images

THE GOVERNMENT IS to extend the Irish Short-stay Visa Waiver Programme for a further four years, the Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence, Alan Shatter announced today.

Shatter also announced changes to the programme, with Bosnia and Herzegovina being added to the existing list of 16 countries already covered. The fee for visas will also be waived for long-term residents from the countries covered by the Programme who live in the Schengen area as a measure to encourage tourism, Shatter said – although that is decision is due to be reviewed after six months.

Shatter said he was very happy that the Government had agreed to the extension of the Programme.

“It was originally intended that the review of the Programme would follow the London Olympics period but on strong representations from the tourism industry I brought forward the review which was completed in recent weeks,” Shatter said. “Today’s announcement will facilitate preparations for the 2013 tourist season during which I am confident the industry will maximise the potential of the Visa Waiver Programme.”

He said that the scheme was an “integral” part of the Government’s Jobs Initiative, and intended encourage tourism from emerging markets like China, India and the Gulf region.

The scheme allows tourists or business people who have lawfully entered the UK, including Northern Ireland, on a valid UK visa to travel on to Ireland without the requirement to obtain an Irish visa.

The full year cost of the existing measures and the new proposals, in terms of lost visa fee revenue, amounts to over €1m approximately, he said. However, he added that “low cost visa fee revenue will be more than made up for by the increased number of visitors to our shores from significant new markets.”

TheJournal.ie’s progress report for the Government: Tourism>

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