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Ireland extends visa waiver program for Chinese tourists

By Zhang Chunxian (Xinhuanet.com)

08:21, March 30, 2012

Edited and Translated by People's Daily Online

Ireland will allow a four-year extension to its short-stay visa waiver program for Chinese tourists, Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny announced at an event organized by Tourism Ireland’s China office on March 27.

Under the existing short-stay visa waiver program lasting from July 1, 2011 to Oct. 31, 2012, Chinese nationals holding a short-term U.K. general visa are allowed to visit Ireland via the United Kingdom without applying for a separate visa, and can stay in Ireland for a maximum of 90 days within the period of validity of the U.K. visa.

The number of Chinese visitors to Ireland has surged since the introduction of the program. After six months of smooth operation and careful review, the Irish government has decided to extend the visa waiver program until the end of October 2016.

Niall Gibbons, chief executive of Tourism Ireland, said that the extension of the visa waiver program was warmly welcomed by domestic tourism promotion bodies and tourism industry insiders. Due to the positive market response, the extension was announced before the London Olympics. Ireland will be fully prepared to receive Chinese visitors.

Kenny also introduced a short-stay visa for individual Chinese travelers, so they do not have to travel to Ireland as part of a tour group.

“The four-year extension of the short-stay visa waiver program and the introduction of the visa for individual travelers, potentially coinciding with the London Olympics, will attract more Chinese visitors to Ireland, which is widely known as the Emerald Isle,” said Susan Li, Tourism Ireland’s chief representative in China.

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