A UK Government plan to provide electronic passes for some travelers crossing the Irish border will not hurt the tourism sector in Northern Ireland, the DUP leader has said.
Jeffrey Donaldson said the alternative to using the electronic travel authorization (ETA) system for cross-border travel would be to apply it to travel from Northern Ireland to the rest of the UK.
Under new post-Brexit immigration and border control legislation passing through Westminster, non-Irish EU citizens living in or visiting the Republic of Ireland would need an ETA to cross the border into Northern Ireland. North.
The visa waiver-style system, which would be similar to that used in the United States, would not apply to Irish or British citizens, who are guaranteed free movement around the island under the travel zone. long-standing joint (CTA) agreement.
The UK government has insisted that the ETA process will be simple and will not involve physical checks at the border.
However, the Irish government expressed concern and requested that the island of Ireland be treated as a special case.
Sir Jeffrey was quizzed on the e-licensing issue on Monday as he fielded questions from business leaders at a pre-election event in Belfast hosted by the Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce (NI Chamber ).
Earlier, the DUP leader outlined his party’s plans to reinvigorate Northern Ireland’s economy, a policy agenda which includes an ambition to make tourism in the region a £2billion industry.
Sir Jeffrey was asked whether this goal would be undermined if tourists visiting the Republic of Ireland were discouraged from traveling north due to the new bureaucracy.
The MP for Lagan Valley said if ETAs were not required for cross-border travel then they would be required for travel from NI to GB.
“Let’s be clear about this – the government will be carrying out checks on the movement of people in the common travel area and I don’t want this to be done at the point of entry between Northern Ireland and Great Britain, because this further adds to our difficulties in terms of connectivity with the rest of the UK, which is our biggest market,” he said.
“I don’t think it will have an impact on tourism. I think if we’re reasonable and there’s information sharing within the common travel area about people entering the common travel area, we can minimize any friction that may arise from the need to ensure that we understand who enters the CTA.
“We fought to ensure that the common travel space was preserved in the Brexit negotiations, that the integrity of the free movement of people within the common travel space was preserved.
“We have achieved this, but in order to ensure that we maintain the integrity of the common travel area, we need to know who is entering the common travel area, and I think if we can make arrangements with the Irish government to share this information, then I think it can be handled in a reasonable way.
“But, frankly, if the choice is between these checks carried out at Dublin airport or at Belfast airport, I know what my choice would be.
“I don’t think it’s fair that we should be subjected to additional checks just because we want to travel within our own country.”