The Irish Travel Agents Association (ITAA) has called on the government and EU member states to engage immediately with proposed EU guidelines for the safe reopening of international travel to avoid further delays in restarting the Irish travel sector. The Association has also highlighted the need for consistent, harmonised regulations for all countries within the EU to facilitate safe and secure travel for all passengers in the coming months.
Foreign travel for holidays is to be permitted in Ireland from July 19, with the European COVID-19 Certificate to be introduced on this date.
Ahead of the EU Ambassadors’ meeting on 11 June, the ITAA is calling on EU member states to approve the Commission’s proposal and begin the coordinated lifting of travel restrictions in the EU.
The proposal was initially put forward by the European Commission on 31 May, and will restore freedom of movement within the EU if adopted and fully implemented.
The ITAA has expressed support for a number of measures outlined in the proposal, including the elimination of testing and quarantine requirements for fully vaccinated persons and those who have recovered from COVID-19.
The ITAA has also reiterated its call for a uniform approach toward testing requirements, including accepting a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of travel and the result of a negative rapid antigen taken within 48 hours.
It also called for tests to be either free or “at least very affordable for travellers who need them to exercise their right to free movement.”
ITAA CEO Pat Dawson said: “We wholeheartedly welcome a coordinated lifting of travel restrictions in Europe; after months of lockdowns, false starts and a myriad of varying measures across the EU, this proposal is very timely.
“It is noted that more than one million Europeans have received the new EU Covid-19 health certificate to date from the nine EU countries which are already issuing these documents. We are calling on the remaining Member States, including Ireland, to follow suit.”
He continued: “This is an essential move to restore travellers’ confidence and reopen borders between EU countries. After restricting movements for over a year now, there is certainly a pent-up demand for travel among Irish consumers. Our member travel agents are willing and committed to provide safe and responsible travel, therefore we urge Ireland and our fellow EU Member States to act swiftly and responsibly in order to protect our industry. 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.”