The Irish Travel Agents Association (ITAA) is calling on the Government to clarify if travel agents qualify for the Covid Recovery Support Scheme (CRSS) under the new restrictions that come into effect on 24 December.
The Association has highlighted the fact that travel agents are classed as non-essential retail and will be permitted to open under new restrictions. However, for all intents and purposes, travel agents have remained closed since last March due to fears surrounding the spread of Covid-19.
The Irish travel sector has been drastically impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic and since March 2020 the industry is down by 95%. The ITAA has pointed out that different sectors have received varying levels of support from Government following the arrival of the pandemic in Ireland. The Association would like to see the travel sector treated fairly, as many travel agents have been under huge financial pressure to stay open this year, therefore the CRSS is vital for 2021.
Pat Dawson, ITAA Chief Executive, said: “Some sectors have received bespoke special assistance and grants during the course of the pandemic and we are only asking that travel agents are treated in the same way, as we are one of the sectors that has been hit the hardest by the pandemic. We are calling on the Government to make a clear decision on this, so that we can begin to rebuild our industry. Irish people love to travel; as soon as it is declared safe to travel again we believe that consumer confidence will be restored. Until that happens, we need support from Government to protect our customers and our businesses.
“The travel industry has been forced into lockdown for an indefinite period of time due to the outbreak of Covid-19. We want to work with Government to save lives and keep our families, our staff, our clients and our communities safe, but we also need to preserve our businesses so that we can resume operations when it is safe to do so. We are hopeful that with Government assistance in the form of the CRSS, we will be able to save the 3,500 jobs that are currently at risk in the Irish travel industry. These businesses were viable before the pandemic and I have no doubt that they will continue to be viable after the threat of Covid-19 has passed.”