Indians visiting Britain on tourist visas will soon be able to visit neighbouring Ireland without a visa, under a visa waiver programme announced in Dublin.
The waiver programme will run from 1 July until October 2012, a period that includes the London 2012 Olympics, when a large number of Indian and other tourists are expected to visit Britain.
Currently, Indian citizens need a visa to enter Ireland. Under Irelands first visa-waiver programme announced on Wednesday, citizens of 14 countries including China, India, and parts of Eastern Europe and the Middle East will no longer need a visa for a short-term visit once they have cleared immigration in the UK.
The Irish government hopes it will result in extra tourism revenue especially from companies and the Olympics.
The programme is designed to assist in the promotion of Ireland as a quality tourist destination for markets which hitherto would not have been regarded as traditional source countries for tourism to Ireland.
Announcing the programme, Irelands Justice and Defence Minister Alan Shatter said our economic difficulties "also present us with opportunities; it gives us a chance to take a fresh look at what we do and how we do it".
He said dismantling barriers which act as a disincentive to potential and sought after visitors is a case in point. Shatter underlined that this Visa Waiver Programme is a very significant initiative in the area of visa liberalisation.
"It will have real and tangible benefits for the nationals of the 14 or so countries (who currently require a visa to come here) participating in the scheme and it will provide a much needed shot in the arm for the hard pressed tourist industry," he noted.
According to an official statement, individuals who avail of the programme "will not be required to pay the visa charge of 60 Euros per person."
"For example, for a family of four, say from India, which travels to London for the Olympics next year and which would like to have a 'side-trip' to Ireland, participation in this Programme will result in a saving of 240 Euros to them," the statement said.
Last year, Ireland approved approximately 30,000 applications for visas from nationals of these 14 countries.
However, hundreds of thousands of these nationals visit the UK as tourists every year. Ireland seeks to attract large number of tourists arriving in Britain.