Farry demands ETA solution for NI tourism

Alliance Party MP, Stephen Farry, has called upon the UK Government to create flexibilities from the Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) requirement for tourist movements on the island of Ireland in order to protect and grow the Northern Ireland tourism sector, in light of the crucial international market which tends to arrive through air and seaports in the Republic of Ireland.

Westminster Stephen Farry

He was speaking at a Westminster Hall debate he brought to the House of Commons on Tuesday 18 July, focusing on the impact of Electronic Travel Authorisations on tourists and people of colour living on the island of Ireland. 
In March, after months of lobbying the Home Office about the impact on those who cross into Northern Ireland on a regular basis, Stephen Farry MP welcomed the Government’s decision to provide an ETA exemption for third-country nationals living in Ireland.
Stephen Farry stated: “There is a major outstanding issue in relation to tourist movements on the island of Ireland. Stakeholders are not contesting the application of ETAs for those entering the UK directly into Northern Ireland. However, the majority of international visitors to Northern Ireland arrive via Dublin. Indeed, the island of Ireland is marketed internationally as a single entity as a key strand of the Good Friday Agreement. Any additional bureaucracy and costs could be a major impediment or disincentive for tourists to come north.
“The Home Office has conducted an economic impact assessment into the introduction of ETAs and stated that it would be published after the fee was established. The ETA’s cost was confirmed as £10 per person last month, with no exemptions for children or day trips. The economic impact assessment has still not been made available.
“I am concerned that the Immigration Minister today recognised the negative impact ETAs would have on Northern Ireland’s businesses, yet is continuing to justify its implementation on the basis of UK security. However, there is no routine immigration control planned, so the so-called threat to the integrity of the UK’s borders doesn’t add up but nevertheless still places those without them in criminal and civil law jeopardy.
“A clear and simple pragmatic solution lies in granting a short exemption for tourists to come to Northern Ireland from the Republic of Ireland for around 5 to 7 days without the need for an ETA. 
“I welcome the Immigration Minister’s clarification today that bar the most egregious cases, those going about their daily lives or as tourists would not be very unlikely to face criminal charges for failure to provide an ETA. However, it is critical that such a promise is reflected in legislation and training.
“Furthermore, the inconsistency between residents and tourists on the island of Ireland raises concerns about how one could possibly differentiate the two, as determining who fits into each category is highly subjective.
“Such subjectivity could create fertile ground for perpetuating biases and heightening the risk of racial profiling. The incidence of racial discrimination and profiling within the Common Travel Area has already generated significant alarm, with direct negative consequences on our racialised and migrant communities.
“I have been lobbying the Home Office for many months. I have also raised it with both the UK Prime Minister and the Taoiseach, and welcome both Governments continuing to engage including meetings at the highest level.
"I will continue to work with the Northern Ireland Tourist Alliance to lobby the Home Office for a workable solution on this. An outcome is crucial for our local sector and the broader economy.”