Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Ceisteanna (675)

Marcella Corcoran Kennedy

Ceist:

678 Deputy Marcella Corcoran Kennedy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the value of the extension of the visa waiver scheme to the tourism industry which has been further extended by the Minister for Justice; if he will provide details of the tourist agencies which intend to take advantage of the visa waiver extension; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16715/12]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport)

Initiatives such as the visa waiver scheme are invaluable in looking to the long-term opportunities presented by developing markets such as the BRIC countries, particularly China, India and the Middle East, visitors from most of which countries require visas. The benefits of the visa waiver scheme are already apparent since it was launched last year and this was reflected in the recent decision by my colleague the Minister for Justice and Equality to extend the scheme. Since the visa waiver scheme was introduced here by the Government last year, there has been a noted increase in demand from tour operators for visits to Ireland. Further growth is anticipated for 2013 and this will be supported and sustained by the extension of the scheme until 2016.

Tourism Ireland has been working hard to maximise the benefits of the scheme, promoting it to travel trade contacts, industry partners and to consumers through an extensive programme of marketing activity and media relations in relevant markets. As these are operational matters for Tourism Ireland, I have forwarded the question to the agency for further direct reply. Please contact my private office if you do not receive a response within ten working days.

Furthermore, earlier this year Tourism Ireland announced a new strategy to attract more high-spending visitors from the emerging tourism markets of Brazil, who do not require visas, and Russia (covered by the visa waiver scheme) building on the existing focus on China, India and the Gulf States. The organisation targets potential holidaymakers in these markets by working closely with airlines and tour operators to increase exposure and demand for holidays to Ireland.