The Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence, Mr. Alan Shatter TD, today welcomed the significant growth in trips to Ireland from countries covered by the Short-stay Visa Waiver Programme, which he launched on 1 July 2011.

Provisional figures indicate that the number of visits in 2012, by persons from the seventeen countries covered by the Programme, was 38% higher than in 2010, the last full year before the introduction of the Programme. The Minister stated that "this indicates that the initiative has had a real positive impact on the Irish economy. The extra visitors that have been attracted to Ireland under this Programme spend many millions of euros while here. By any standards this is a significant and positive development." 

The Programme, which is the first ever in the history of the State, was designed to boost visits, especially from emerging markets, and it applies to holders of UK short stay visas from seventeen selected countries - China, India, Russia, Turkey, Ukraine, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Serbia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. It allows visitors, who are in possession of a UK visa, to travel on to Ireland without the need to apply for a separate Irish visa. The Government decided, in March 2012, to extend the Programme until the end of October 2016.

The Minister added that, given the success of the Programme, that he is currently looking at expanding it to cover more countries.

4 July 2013