The Irish Travel Agents Association is asking Government to initiate plans to reopen international travel within the EU. Presenting to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Transport later today, the ITAA is calling for the swift implementation of Digital Green Certificates in line with EU regulations and for the Government to begin to unwind current restrictions preventing international travel in order to restore consumer confidence and to set about rebuilding the Irish travel industry.
The ITAA delegation will highlight the impact of current restrictions on travel, stating that it is imperative to support and engage with proposed EU policies for the restart of travel, particularly the Digital Green Certificates. The EU Parliament voted last week to approve the Certificates, which will be law by June and must be rolled out by all EU member states within six weeks.
The ITAA is also asking Government to lift the current advice against non-essential international travel and to consider the plan announced by the EU Commission to allow travel for fully-vaccinated individuals between Schengen member states. The Association has noted with concern the high costs associated with PCR testing, which they believe will act as a deterrent for consumers considering booking trips abroad.
Travel agents are also concerned regarding the issue of credit card companies requesting substantial cash deposits from travel agents, which challenges the bonding and licencing arrangements which the Government have in place for Travel Agents. The Association is calling on Government to address this issue in order to protect the future of the Irish travel industry. The Association are also highlighting the need for continued business supports for Irish travel agents due to the delay between advance booking and travel, which means that travel agents often have to wait for a period of many months before they see any revenue from bookings.
Pat Dawson, CEO of the ITAA stated, “There are a number of issues affecting our industry as a direct result of COVID-19, so we are pleased to have an opportunity to present to the Joint Oireachtas Committee to outline our concerns for our customers and member travel agents alike, and begin formulating a plan for a safe return to international travel. It is essential that we engage with the proposed EU legislation on Digital Green Certificates to avoid falling behind other EU member states and causing further problems down the line when it comes to restarting our industry. We must also begin to unwind the current restrictions which are limiting inbound and outbound tourism, and examine current measures which may act as a deterrent for international travel such as high costs associated with PCR testing.”
He continued, “We are working hard on behalf of our member travel agents to highlight the issues faced by our industry and plan for a safe return to travel in the coming weeks and months. There is a 6 to 9 month delay between booking and travel which means that our sector must work for 6 to 9 months before we actually count the income generated from advance bookings. The issue of merchant service providers seeking high cash deposits from travel agents is at odds with the current bonding and licensing arrangements put in place by Government to protect travel agents. We are calling on Government to address this issue immediately to avoid another blow to our industry after such a difficult year. We hope that the Committee will take our submissions on board and that we can work together to secure a positive outcome for our members and customers.”