Calls for Government to ‘take steps’ to support travel sector

by Rachel Darcy

Calls have been made for the Government to take steps to support the Irish travel industry during the current pandemic, and in the aftermath.

The Irish Travel Agents Association (ITAA) is calling for support, by ensuring that travel agents are protected in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

As pressure mounts for a ban on non-essential travel between EU member states, the ITAA say that they want to see the sector treated fairly, with long-term supports put in place for travel agents.

The ITAA have been seeking a meeting with the Department of Transport, Minister Eamon Ryan and Minister Hildegarde Naughton for ‘some time now’ to discuss the necessary supports for the sector.

Travel has been one of the hardest hit sectors during the pandemic, with the organisation saying that travel agents faced huge financial pressure to remain open in 2020.

This is why they are calling for tailored, long-term supports for the sector for the rest of 2021, rather than receiving temporary supports under Level 5 restrictions.

ITAA CEO Pat Dawson said: “The travel industry has been forced into lockdown for an indefinite period of time due to the outbreak of COVID-19.

“While we have had platitudes and promises from Government, there have been no significant supports offered to keep travel agents afloat throughout the course of the pandemic.

“We still have to pay rents and salaries, as we are in the unique position where we had to remain open in order to provide day-to-day assistance to our customers.

“Some sectors have received tailor-made assistance and grants and we would like to see travel agents treated in the same way, as we are one of the sectors which have been hit the hardest by the pandemic.”

“Our number one priority has always been the health and safety of our customers, our staff and our communities.

“We want to be responsible, follow medical advice and work with Government to save lives, but we also need to preserve our businesses so that we can resume operations when it is safe to do so.

“We are calling on the Government to make a clear decision on this, so that we can begin to rebuild our industry.”

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