Ireland’s Minister for Justice and Equality this week announced that Indian citizens can avail of free travel between Ireland and Britain as the Visa Scheme was extended.
It means that for the first time Indian visitors will follow Chinese citizens in being able to visit both the north and south of the island on a single visa issued by either country.
Frances Fitzgerald said: “This decision is taken jointly by the Irish and UK authorities with the aim of boosting tourism and business travel to our countries.”
The two countries are committed to boosting tourism across the Common Travel Area, including security measures to strengthen border relations which saw an agreement to share immigration data between authorities.
“While on the one hand we are removing barriers of borderless travel between our countries to genuine visitors within the Common Travel Area, on the other we must cooperate to the greatest extent possible to protect our borders from abuse.
“To achieve this balance the Irish and British immigration authorities are increasing cooperation to prevent persons from entering our countries who have no right to be here,” Ms Fitzgerald continued.
It replaces Ireland’s Short-stay Visa Waiver Programme, introduced in July 2011, which already allows nationals from a number of countries to travel from the UK to Ireland using their UK visa.
The number of visitors from those specific countries grew by 68 per cent between 2010 and 2013, but that Programme only allowed travel in one direction while the new Scheme allows travel throughout the UK and Ireland.