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As we looked at in our last post, Colombia is, from a tourism perspective anyway, ‘the country of the moment’. In the coming months and years it may be about to see unprecedented numbers visiting its shores as word has finally got out of the many natural beauties the place has to offer.
What’s more, for now in any case, it’s rather simple for Western tourists to come here should they wish to. That is to say, there’s no tedious visa application needed if the purpose is solely tourism. Up to 90 days are granted on arrival, which can be extended by a further 90 if you feel the need (you just need to leave the country and come back in again in order to get that extension, something that is generally the case throughout Latin America).
Yet, this relatively relaxed approach is not reciprocated by all the countries who benefit from it here. The obvious one (and most popular for Colombians) is the United States of America. There’s nothing surprising in that, however. US immigration makes it difficult for citizens of most nations to enter its territory. And this is only set to get worse with President Donald J. Trump at the helm. (‘But Señor Trump, aren’t we all immigrants in a sense?’ For more on that topic, see Phantom freedom.)
Those insular, loopy Yanks aside, we Irish, for the nation of migrants that we are, don’t always return a country’s friendly gesture made towards us. Colombians, as well as Ecuadorians, Peruvians and Venezuelans to name just the Latin South American countries, need to apply in advance for a tourist visa to allow them visit our rain-sodden little island. This is in contrast to the Schengen Area of countries on the European mainland which allows Colombians, Peruvians and Venezuelans (but not Ecuadorians and Bolivians for some reason) visa-free access for a minimum of 90 days.
Now assuming, as it seems safe to do so, that visiting ‘the Emerald Isle’ isn’t exactly top priority for most citizens of these countries — the costs involved largely see to that — why do we make it difficult for the few who actually are willing to come? Talk about double standards. (It must be noted here that Ireland did submit a request to participate in Schengen in 2002. This was approved by the Council of the European Union but it has not yet, obviously enough, been put into effect; and the political desire to do so seems lacking right now.)
In such straightened times, you think we’d happily welcome anyone who’s willing to spend their hard-earned money visiting us, giving the economy a little boost in the process. Why be selective on where the paying tourists come from?
Selective, however, is what we are. We have our favourites, to hell with the rest. ‘The land of a thousand welcomes’, for those who fit the bill that is.
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