The Irish Travel Agents Association (ITAA) are welcoming the expected announcement later today by An Taoiseach Micheál Martin, stating that foreign travel for holidays is to be permitted from July 19, with the European COVID-19 Certificate to be introduced on this date. The Association has stated that with the correct EU measures in place, there should not be any further delay to restarting the travel and aviation industry.
It has been a difficult sixteen months for travel agents, as they were effectively prevented from trading due to COVID-19, and yet remained open to assist customers with refunds and rescheduling bookings. The ITAA are now calling on Government to provide added business supports for 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, ITAA CEO stated: “Our member travel agents are looking forward to reopening after what has been a very challenging year for the industry. We welcome the news that international travel will reopen at the end of next month after a long period of uncertainty. In order to ensure a successful restart for our industry, we are asking Government to calling on Government to provide the necessary business supports to avoid another blow to our industry after such a difficult year. 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 Association has also encouraged consumers to book with Irish-based ITAA member travel agents, as this will ensure that they are protected should any issues arise. Consumers who book with a bonded, licensed travel agent are guaranteed protection under the European Package Travel Directive (PTD) which is not guaranteed when booking ‘do-it-yourself’ holidays. Irish travel agents offer a wide range of choice to consumers in terms of airlines, tour operators and suppliers, as well as being equipped to give expert advice to their customers regarding destinations, transport, accommodation and transfers.
He continued: “Irish travel agents offer a level of service and consumer protection which cannot be matched by DIY holiday bookings. Not only does using a travel agent offer a wide range of choice and take the hassle out of booking a holiday, we also offer added consumer protection. Customers of fully bonded and licensed travel agents are automatically protected under the Package Travel Directive, whereas airlines are not bonded and therefore cannot offer the same protection as a travel agent if bookings are disrupted or cancelled or if the airline collapses.
“Our members have been working hard to ensure customers are satisfied since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, and will continue to do so as long as this situation lasts. Customer safety and satisfaction is the number one priority for ITAA member travel agents, and we continue to work hard to get the very best deals for our valued customers.”