Distinction in travel journalism
Is independent travel journalism important to you?
Click here to keep it independent

7 Oct, 2014

Britain, Ireland ink visa deal to benefit Chinese, Indian travelers

LONDON/DUBLIN, (Xinhua) October 07, 2014 – Britain and Ireland on Monday inked a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on visa cooperation to allow Chinese and Indian visitors to travel to the two island nations on a single visa.

Britain, Ireland inks visa deal to benefit Chinese, Indian travelers

Applicants for visas wait in line at the British visa center in Beijing on Monday. [WANG JING / CHINA DAILY]

The landmark visa deal will help Britain and Ireland share data and exchange information to inform and determine immigration decisions and allow visitors from India and China to travel more easily between the two countries, the British Home Office said in a statement.

“This agreement will make it easier and more attractive for travelers to visit both Ireland and the UK, while at the same strengthening Common Travel Area borders,” British Home Secretary Theresa May said.

The British-Irish Visa Scheme will start in China by the end of October and in India soon afterwards, the Home Office noted.

China and India are both key markets for British and Irish tourism and more than 10,000 visitors are expected to use the scheme.

Frances Fitzgerald, the Irish minister for justice and equality, said, “The British-Irish Visa Scheme which we expect will provide a major boost to tourism for both countries is a very practical example of the transformation in British-Irish relations. ”

“The scheme will benefit the Northern Irish economy in particular, by allowing Chinese and Indian visitors to the Republic of Ireland the opportunity to visit Northern Ireland without having to obtain a separate UK visa,” Fitzgerald explained.

The visa scheme is part of a British-Irish joint program aimed at strengthening both countries’ borders.

Other projects include closer working on visa policies and processes, facilitating greater pre-entry and entry checks and sharing watch-list information and passenger data.

Fitzgerald described it as an initiative of “unprecedented” cooperation between the two countries.

“It is truly remarkable, and a potent symbol of the transformation in British-Irish relations,” she said, adding that the scheme is “something that but a few years ago would have seemed an impossibility.”

She also said that the scheme is a historic development in the operation of the Common Travel Area “which for almost the past one hundred years has been of immense political, social and economic importance to both countries.”