Hanna: ETA plan a needless blow for NI tourism

claire hanna Tourism ETA

SDLP South Belfast MP Claire Hanna has said that the UK government’s Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) plan would be hugely damaging to Northern Ireland’s tourism industry.

Ms Hanna challenged Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick on the plans during a Westminster Hall debate on Tuesday.

The government’s plan will mean non-Irish or UK citizens will need an ETA to travel between the South and Northern Ireland.

South Belfast MP Ms Hanna said:

“I was flabbergasted to hear the UK government’s Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick admit that the government’s ETA plans and the failure to provide people travelling into Northern Ireland from the South with an exemption would have an impact on tourism here. In real terms this will mean fewer people visiting the North due to this unnecessary red tape, with an impact on businesses, jobs and wages for families who rely on the tourist industry to earn a living.

“At Westminster, I have repeatedly made the case that the ETA plans are unworkable given the unique circumstances on our island and the government have repeatedly failed to listen to the pleas of the tourism industry around the negative impact this will have, even in the face of their own analysis. It is also acknowledged by the government that the vast majority of people travelling North won’t be recorded, so the mechanism doesn’t even fulfil its stated aim of tracking arrivals. It creates a tourism deterrent and potential legal jeopardy for no good reason.

“This attitude to issues impacting people on this island shows just how little this government cares about people in our region. As a direct result we will see more and more people who visit our island deciding to stop at the border and not make the trip North, coach holidays will decide to exclude our attractions from their routes and all of the hard work that has gone into building up our tourism industry over the last few decades will be undone.

“I am urging the government to listen to the local tourism industry and find a solution before this harmful policy comes into place. Allowing tourists in the South to seamlessly visit Northern Ireland poses no threat to UK security and the SDLP will keep fighting alongside industry representatives to resist the imposition of the ETA scheme here.”

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