29 March 2015
By Bryan T. Smyth
Fine Gael MEP Deirdre Clune (Cork South Central), has said that Ireland will miss out on the benefits of a new proposed EU Touring Visa as we are not a member of the Schengen area.
“The European Commission has proposed a new type of visa, the Touring visa, which will allow non EU visitors to stay for one year, and extend their stay to 2 years, in the Schengen visa area of Europe. The Schengen visa area is a collective of 26 European countries that have mutually decided to eliminate passport and immigration controls at their joint borders. As Ireland and England are not in the Schengen area we will not feel the benefits from this touring visa.
“The new Touring visa will make it easier for non EU tourists to get an EU wide visa, thus making Europe a more attractive destination for Asians and those coming from the Middle East. Ireland should not miss out on this. I have asked the European Commission to explore ways that Ireland and the UK could link in with these new proposals for an EU wide Touring Visa.
“European Commission research showed that 6.6 million people would have liked to come to Europe last year but didn’t because of visa rules. The same research showed we lost circa €130bn of potential tourist revenue due to visa restrictions. 57 million Asians and 38.8 million people from the Middle East visited Europe last year. International trips by Chinese travellers have grown from 10 million in 2000 to 83 million in 2012. There is massive potential in the Chinese market for Ireland. And they spend money! – Chinese travellers spent a record $102bn in international tourism in 2012, up 40% from 2011. That’s more than the total for American or German visitors. In the first three quarters of 2013, China’s expenditure increased by 28%.
“Rapid urbanisation, increased disposable income and a relaxing of travel restrictions have enabled more people to travel from these parts of the world. We need to capitalise on this! Tourism in Ireland is growing at about 10% per year. Our aim is that by 2025, revenue from overseas visitors will increase to €5 billion, and that employment in the sector will rise to 250,000. These are real jobs that are often the lifeline of rural Ireland.”