Two visa requirement rediculous - McHugh
Fine Gael TD Joe McHugh has said that Ireland's selection as the ‘Most Popular Tourist Destination 2010' by readers of a mainstream Chinese newspaper proves the need for a new strategy to tap into the Chinese tourist market.
Speaking at a meeting in Ballyliffin last Tuesday night Deputy McHugh said: "The Oriental Morning Post newspaper along with an official group of Chinese travel specialists have recently voted Ireland the ‘Most Popular Destination 2010'. This proves Ireland's attractiveness to tourists from all over the world.
"For the past decade this island has missed out on the growing Chinese tourism market because Chinese tourists must secure separate British and Irish holiday visas in order to visit the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. This two-visa requirement is ridiculous.
"Last July Fine Gael published a 10 point plan to create jobs in the Border region. Included in this plan is a commitment to provide joint Irish-British holiday visas. Asian tourists who visit the Giants Causeway are more likely to cross the Border including into Donegal if this joint Irish-British holiday visa is available.
"Irish Tourism figures have fallen dramatically in recent times, with a staggering one million fewer visitors in the first six months of 2010 compared to the same period in 2008. Fine Gael recognises the huge potential of the Chinese tourist market for this region. Chinese tourists travelling to Europe are more likely to visit this island if they can crisscross the Border unimpeded.
"If Fine Gael is elected to Government, I look forward to driving this necessary change."