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Visa approval rates for Asian visitors are high, says minister

Last update - Thursday, February 25, 2010, 11:34 By Metro Éireann

VISA APPROVAL rates for visitors from India and China are high, Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern has contended.

The minister was responding to recent comments by Gerry Mullins, chief executive of the Coach Tourism and Transport Council, who said excessively strict visa rules were dissuading visitors from these countries.
Mullins had pointed out that Chinese people applying for a holiday visa were required to supply six months of bank statements and a letter from their host in Ireland stating that they will support them during their stay.
In a written response to a Dáil question on the matter from Sinn Féin TD Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin, Minister Ahern wrote that all visa services worldwide are concerned with striking a balance between upholding the efficiency of their country’s immigration regime, while not placing “unnecessary or unreasonable” obstacles in the way of those travelling for legitimate purposes.
“Each visa application is decided on its own merits and I believe that, in most cases, my department achieves this balance,” he wrote.
Minister Ahern revealed that the approval rate for visa applications processed through Ireland’s visa office in New Delhi (serving applications from Indians, Bangladeshis, Sri Lankans and Nepalese) last year was 90 per cent.
The approval rate at the Beijing visa office – serving China, Cambodia and Mongolia – was 86 per cent.
Meanwhile, Tourism Minister Martin Cullen acknowledged that new and developing markets, such as India and China, are “potentially of significant importance to Irish tourism”.
He said that to fully exploit the opportunities presented, Ireland “needs to be competitive on all fronts”, and said a smooth visa application process is one such necessity.
Minister Cullen added that the Government-appointed Tourism Renewal Group had “put forward a number of options to explore, having regard to the complexity of immigration policy and administration”, and that his department is engaging with the Department of Justice on the matter.

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