The Association met with Minister Eamon Ryan and Minister Hildegarde Naughton yesterday to discuss urgent business supports needed for the Irish travel industry, reports Clodagh Dooley
The Irish Travel Agents Association (ITAA) made a strong case for a bespoke business support package at a meeting recently with Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan and Minister of State responsible for international travel, Hildegarde Naughton.
The Ministers were told of the dire impact the pandemic and subsequent travel restrictions were having on the outbound Irish travel industry and were called upon to provide improved Government supports for Irish travel agents.
The ITAA delegation was headed up by Michael Doorley, President of the ITAA, with fellow ITAA Board Members Clare Dunne, Valerie Metcalfe, Paul Hackett and ITAA CEO Pat Dawson. They emphasised the urgent need for a bespoke response for travel agents, with specific financial supports put in place as a consequence of being closed on public health grounds linked to international travel since the beginning of the pandemic. The Association is calling for tailored business supports for the travel industry in order to protect the travel industry, and facilitate a smooth and safe return to business when international travel can finally resume.
The ITAA has stated that, while the travel industry has continued to reschedule bookings to late 2021 to keep pace with fluctuating travel restrictions, a return to international travel this year is unlikely. This will lead to further cancellations in the latter half of 2021 and early 2022, and no income for travel agents.
Currently, travel agents are in receipt of the EWSS, and are entitled to CRSS from Level 4, which the ITAA feel is inadequate as it fails to address the unique issues faced by the Irish travel industry. CRSS does not support the downturn in business caused by Government restrictions on international travel, but instead is directly linked to the levels in the COVID framework; however travel agents are prevented from trading, irrespective of the levels and have been since March 2020.
ITAA CEO Pat Dawson stated, “Despite being recognised as the industry’s ‘hardest hit’ by the pandemic, there has been no bespoke financial assistance given to Irish travel agents. Whilst we appreciate the schemes that the Government has put in place, there is no differentiation between businesses that have been able to open for intermittent periods, businesses which are down only 30% (for EWSS) and 75% (for CRSS), and travel agents who have been down 90% consistently since March 2020 with no respite.”
He continued, “Irish travel agents are responsible and always put the health and safety of our customers first. However, if we are prevented from trading as a direct result of restrictions, then we urgently require tailored business supports to ensure that we are in a position to open once again when the threat of Covid-19 has passed. We are calling for a bespoke response with specific supports as a consequence of being closed for over a year on public health grounds linked to international travel. We are working hard on behalf of all licensed travel agents to highlight the issues faced by our industry, and come to an agreement on supports for Irish travel agents.”
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