Emirates saw a double-digit growth in passengers since the visa-free was introduced
Ireland’s decision to allow visa-free travel for UAE citizens has seen a double-digit increase in business, according to new figures.
Announced in January this year, UAE nationals can avail of a 90-day visit visa on arrival to Ireland.
With 28 flights between Ireland and the UAE each week (twice daily) from Dubai and Abu Dhabi, the move has had a positive impact on transport, according to Emirates.
Enda Corneille, Ireland country manager with Emirates, said there was a 17% increase in total business coming from the UAE into Ireland through the Dubai route.
“Nothing else has changed, so I can only put it down to the visa exemption,” said Corneille. “Business class alone has increased by 28%. This very encouraging and possibly illustrates the economic benefit of the new visa regime."
The removal of visa requirements also provided a boost to Ireland’s growing trade, tourism and business relationships with the UAE, according to Niall Gibbons, chief executive of Tourism Ireland.
“The introduction of visa free travel for UAE nationals to Ireland was a milestone for both the United Arab Emirates and the Irish governments,” said Gibbons.
“This further strengthened the already positive relationship between the two nations and provided a welcome opportunity for UAE nationals to discover the culture, landscape and history of Ireland.
"We are delighted to see the increase in the number of travellers from the UAE to Ireland since January, when visa free travel was introduced. We are confident that this figure will continue to grow and we look forward to welcoming many more UAE nationals to our country.”
Outside of transport, businesses in Ireland have also seen an uptick in trade from visitors originating from the UAE, including hospitality and retail. Visitors who purchase goods in Ireland can avail of tax-back from the airports on departure.
“Anecdotal feedback has been really positive,” Gibbons said. “For example, one leading retail destination outside of Dublin experienced a 63% year on year increase in visitors from the UAE in Q1 this year, which we are attributing to the lifting of visa requirements for UAE nationals.
“The Irish Government worked hard with the United Arab Emirates to introduce visa free travel for UAE nationals coming to Ireland. This was a historic step for Irish-Emirati relations and one which we hope will encourage more Emiratis to visit Ireland,” he added.
With over 60,000 Muslims living in Ireland, and wide availability of Mosques and prayer rooms across the country, Gibbons said it’s a country that’s welcoming to visitors from the UAE.
“There are also a wide variety of Halal friendly restaurants spread across the region, including a number of dedicated halal convenience stores dedicated to serving the island of Ireland’s growing Muslim community,” Gibbons said.
“All major Hotels and Restaurants will provide Halal food on request, and Arabic coffee, shisha and traditional Arabic food are served to high standards.
"Hotels in Ireland are increasingly aware of catering to the needs of Muslim tourists, providing copies of the Quran, Prayers mats, Wudu facilities and the direction for Qibla, on request. Hotels are also accustomed to providing for the needs of Muslim guests - large adjoining rooms such as family suites are widely available, as are alcohol-free hotel rooms.”