James Kenny, Tourism Ireland (third right); and James Griffin, Só Hotels – including The Killeshin Hotel Portlaoise (right), meeting with Chinese tour operators, in Guangzhou.
Laois TD and Minister for Justice and Equality, Charlie Flanagan TD, has announced a new 5-year multi-entry visa option for Chinese tourists coming to Ireland.
His Department said the announcement coincides with the 40th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Ireland and China, which were established on 22 June 1979, and recognises the importance of the Chinese tourist market and the attractiveness of Ireland as a tourist destination for Chinese citizens.
"The establishment of diplomatic relations between Ireland and China 40 years ago today opened the door to stronger people to people and business to business links between our two countries. The introduction of direct flights from Ireland to mainland China by Hainan Airlines last year was very significant and I hope this new visa option will lead to the continued growth in this important bilateral relationship,” he said.
A statement said China is the largest outbound travel market in the world and one that Tourism Ireland is committed to growing over the coming years.
It said the current approval rate for Chinese visitor visas to Ireland is over 95 percent and the Visa Office in the Irish embassy in Beijing issued over 7,500 visitor visas in 2018. Tourism Ireland aims to grow Chinese visitor numbers to 200,000 by 2025 and, in particular, to grow the number of high end individual Chinese travellers to the island of Ireland.
Minster Flanagan said this latest change to the visa regime will be a major support in growing this important tourism market.
“With a population of over 1.3 billion people and a strong economy, China offers fantastic potential tourism links for Ireland. Our tourist industry is so important to communities in every county on the island of Ireland and I am hopeful that the changes I am announcing today will increase the number of Chinese visitors coming to Ireland in the months and years ahead,” he said.
The new 5-year multi-entry visa option will become available on 1 July 2019. The option will be available where the applicant has a proven reliable travel history as evidenced by a visa previously granted by Ireland, the United Kingdom, the Schengen States, Australia, Canada, New Zealand or the USA and compliance with the terms of those visas.
Visitors can currently avail of a 1-year, 2-year or 3-year multi-entry visa options. This new option will provide further flexibility for the regular holiday traveller (it is already available for business travellers). All applications can be made on-line.