Economy Minister Conor Murphy has met with the NI Tourism Alliance (NITA) to discuss concerns about the introduction of the British Government Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) Scheme.

Minister Conor Murphy has held a meeting with the NI Tourism Alliance (NITA) to discuss concerns around the introduction of the UK Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) Scheme.  He is pictured with NITA CEO, Dr Joanne Stuart (R) and Chair Judith Owens (L)

Minister meets with the NI Tourism Alliance

Minister Murphy said:

“Tourism is performing extremely well with the number of external overnight visitors quadrupling between 1998 and 2019.  Seamless all-island travel is key to this growth.  Over 70% of international visitors to the north arrive via Dublin.  I therefore have strong concerns that the British Government’s introduction of its Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) Scheme threatens this success.”  

While initially only operational for Gulf States, the British government intends to fully roll out the scheme by the end of 2024.  Under current plans, all non-visa national visitors to the UK will have to apply for an ETA at a cost of £10 per person.  All such visitors coming to the north will need to obtain and hold an ETA whether they arrive direct at a UK port of entry (airport/ferry terminal) or via the land border with the south.  British and Irish citizens are exempt. 

With over 70% of international visitors to the north arriving via Dublin and an estimated 277,000 daytrips per annum being made from the south to the north by international travellers, there are significant concerns about the impact on tourism here. 

The Minister continued:

“The introduction of new travel restrictions for overseas visitors will result in this part of the island of Ireland being struck off the itinerary of many tour operators and independent travellers.  I intend to raise this matter with the Home Office to try to find a solution that protects our tourism industry.” 

The NITA has been lobbying the British government for mitigations to include an exemption package for up to 5-7 days for tourists travelling to Northern Ireland through the Republic of Ireland, including those on all-island tours, conferences, events and for independent travellers. 


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