SDLP South Belfast MP Claire Hanna has challenged Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on the impact the Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) scheme would have on Northern Ireland’s tourism industry.
Ms Hanna also highlighted the negative impact for non-Irish EU citizens living on the island.
The ETA will require non-Irish EU citizens to submit personal and biometric data to cross the border into Northern Ireland.
South Belfast MP Claire Hanna said:
“The tourism industry has been clear about the disastrous impact the UK Government’s ETA plans would have on their sector - some 70% of our interventional visitors arrive via Dublin and we know that complexity and red tape would deter many of them. This policy would create a barrier between these businesses and a key economic driver.
"Not only would this policy badly damage our tourism industry, but it could impact many people who aren’t Irish or British citizens but who want to cross the border for leisure or work. The ETA plan is just one part of the government’s regressive Nationality and Borders Bill and one more way that signals their lack of understanding of this region. The SDLP will continue working to highlight the harm of policies like this and to engage with government and sectoral representatives to defeat it."
SDLP Tourism Spokesperson councillor Laura Devlin said:
“Living and working in a border area I know all too well the impact this harmful policy from the UK Government would have on people in this area. Tourism is a huge economic driver in our communities, bringing much-needed jobs and investment to an area that is all too often left behind by Stormont and Westminster. A policy like this would drastically reduce the number of people visiting places like Newcastle, Newry and Downpatrick with serious consequences for our local economy.
“We need to stand together with our local tourism industry to send a clear message to the UK Government that these proposals are simply unworkable across the North. There is little benefit to the government from pursuing this harmful policy and we need to keep fighting and make sure that they see sense. We have spent far too long building up a thriving tourism sector to see it destroyed as a result of short-sighted post-Brexit Tory extremism.”