The Irish Travel Agents Association (ITAA) has welcomed the publication of the final report of the Aviation Recovery Taskforce which was published today and the recommendations within. However, the Association had anticipated that the interim recommendations of the Taskforce would be implemented by the Government following its publication on June 22. This has not been done.
These include the removal of the quarantine requirements for people arriving into Ireland and clarity regarding travel advisories to the general public. The delay in implementing these measures has shaken the confidence of the consumer in air travel and made it difficult to plan travel.
It has left consumers facing the prospect of NO refunds on flights that they have paid for but are unable to use without contravening social policy, meaning a loss of €1m a day in paid for and unused seats. These are hard earned family outlays which are forfeit through no fault of the consumer.
It has put the future of many SMEs throughout the country at risk and the future of those they employ.
The Taskforce emphasises the urgency of a plan “to economically co-exist with the virus and, as an island nation, this has to include international travel.” The ITAA reiterates the urgency of the need to do this, and follow fellow EU members with a managed and safety conscious reopening of international travel.
Pat Dawson, CEO of the ITAA said: “While much ITAA business relates to outbound corporate and leisure travel, the nature of the aviation sector means that the outbound and inbound sectors are inherently linked. The ITAA passionately supports the promotion of aviation and regional airports to save Ireland’s tourism sector and by extension, its economy.”
President of the ITAA, Michael Doorley said: “The ITAA welcomes the report and the way forward suggested. Travel agents, as the vital element in outbound travel, will do our utmost to contribute to promoting foreign travel; our role in promoting outbound travel compliments the efforts of others to promote inward travel and both our efforts help airlines to continue services to all our airports.”
The Irish Travel industry directly employs approximately 3,500 people across Ireland in rural and regional towns as well as larger cities. Irish travel agents offer a full range of outbound travel services such as holiday packages, flights, cruises, hotels and car hire across both corporate and consumer markets. The industry has been drastically impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, and is down by 98% since March 2020. In spite of this, it is one of the few remaining industries in the country which is still subject to restrictions. There are currently 250,000 jobs at risk in the tourism sector, which is Ireland’s largest indigenous industry.