Ireland, Britain introduce single visa for India tourists

TO EDUCATE travel consultants about the new British-Irish Visa Scheme (BIVS), Tourism Ireland today kick-started a three-city roadshow with VisitBritain in New Delhi, to be followed by Mumbai on March 24 and Bengaluru on April 21.

India is the second Asian country after China to benefit from the BIVS, which commenced in the country a month ago and replaces the Irish Short-Stay Visa Waiver Programme, which has been extended until October 31, 2016.

The new scheme enables visitors to travel throughout the Irish-British external border of the Common Travel Area on one visa, excluding the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands. It applies to short-term visit visas for a maximum of three months and does not apply to student or work visas.

“Given that visitors from India are travelling a considerable distance and often want to include more than one destination on their itinerary, it makes sense to make it as easy as possible for them to visit both Ireland and the UK on a single visa,” explained Huzan Frazer, representative from Tourism Ireland India.

Mahendra Vakharia, managing director, Pathfinders Holidays and secretary, OTOAI western region, opined: “The scheme will greatly boost Ireland and UK tourism as it removes the hurdle of opting for a separate visa, which forces clients to spend extra.

“The BIVS enables us to plan and sell the itineraries better. Although we have not noticed an increase in sales so far, enquiries have increased tremendously. BIVS will be a big hit during the peak season.”

M S Raghavan, managing director, Passion and Pleasure Travels & Tours in Bengaluru, said: “The enquiries for the UK and Ireland itineraries have increased from all segments of travellers. In the long run, we expect 80 per cent of tourists visiting the UK will extend their trips to Ireland.”

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