Tourists go home!

Tourism Ireland spends millions abroad encouraging people to visit, and this country desparately needs the resulting “invisble exports”. However, other arms of the state seek to prevent visitors.

A colleague’s wife was due to give birth to her second child two weeks ago. Her parents applied for a tourist visa in early March. Their intention was to arrive shortly before the due date, help out with childcare for the first couple of weeks, and take a well deserved holiday while they were here, visiting the tourist attractions they have heard so much about.

My colleague’s father-in-law has been working for over 30 years and is a fulltime university lecturer. He and his wife own their own home outright. They had to supply documentary evidence of this and of their (quite comfortable) financial situation with their visa application.

They learned yesterday (two weeks after their grandson’s birth) that their visa application has been refused for “financial reasons” and because it was feared that they would not leave the state when their visa expired. They’d give up a home, family, job and comfortable lifestyle to do what, exactly, in Ireland? They would be entitled to no income from the state here and could not work.

Instead of benefitting from their tourist spend and word-of-mouth advertising to friends, family and colleagues, they have been left with a bitter experience. Their daughter will instead travel home for a couple of months with her children. We promote tourism in some developing countries and relax visa requirements (e.g., India), but visitors from neighbouring Pakistan seem to be actively discouraged. Is it a religious thing?


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