Northern Ireland's tourism sector is facing a potential threat from the United Kingdom's Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) scheme. This scheme is expected to be mandatory for travelers who do not require a visa to enter the UK, excluding Irish citizens due to the Common Travel Area agreement.

Northern Ireland's Tourism Faces 'Real Risk' from UK's Electronic Travel Authorisation Scheme
(Photo : Kaeli Hearn on Unsplash)

Northern Ireland Tourism Faces Risk from UK's ETA Scheme

Speaking at a tourism event in Belfast, Ian Snowden, the permanent secretary at Northern Ireland's Department for the Economy, acknowledged the tourism industry's recovery following the COVID-19 pandemic but raised concerns about the challenges ahead.

According to The Independent, Snowden emphasized the importance of addressing the potential impact of the UK Government's proposed ETA scheme on tourism. He stated that there is a "real risk" that the requirement for an ETA might discourage tourists, including those visiting Northern Ireland as part of their itinerary. 

Since the majority of overseas visitors to Northern Ireland travel through the Republic of Ireland, effective communication about the scheme is crucial.

The Department for the Economy has been in close communication with the UK Home Office to ensure that the unique situation of Northern Ireland is considered when developing the communications strategy and implementing the ETA scheme.

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Alice Mansergh, the chief executive designate of Tourism Ireland, praised Snowden's remarks regarding the ETA and stressed the importance of working closely with relevant government departments to mitigate any potential risks to tourism.

As per the news report, the UK Government has defended the ETA scheme, stating that it is intended to enhance security by preventing the entry of individuals who pose a threat to the UK. Travelers, including those arriving in Northern Ireland, must comply with the UK's immigration framework, which may include obtaining an ETA when necessary. 

The government expressed its commitment to collaborating with various stakeholders to communicate the ETA requirement effectively and ensure it does not impede cross-border tourism on the island of Ireland.

Tourism Boost Plan for Northern Ireland in 2024

Tourism Ireland is launching a big plan in 2024 to bring more visitors to Northern Ireland. They want to make the tourism industry grow by 6.5% each year until 2030. This is a bigger goal than for the whole island of Ireland, which is 5.6%. 

Alice Mansergh, the new boss of Tourism Ireland, shared these plans. She said that 2023 was the first year without COVID-19 limits, and things like hotel stays and flights are now even better than in 2019.

The plan is to show off Northern Ireland all over the world. The News Letter mentioned that Tourism Ireland will work hard to tell people about all the great places to see in Northern Ireland. They want to make people excited about visiting not just famous spots, but also less-known places. They are also focusing on making tourism good for local areas and the environment.

Mansergh also talked about making the tourism season longer in Northern Ireland. She wants to use the popularity of Halloween and the beauty of spring to bring more people. The Londonderry Halloween festival is already a big hit in Europe, and they want to make it even more popular.

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