Paul Hackett, Managing Director of Click&Go, has been officially confirmed as President of the Irish Travel Agents Association (ITAA) at the Association’s AGM, which took place virtually via Video Conference Call.
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis in Ireland he has been instrumental in lobbying for the travel industry, presenting on behalf of the ITAA, with the CEO Pat Dawson, at three Joint Oireachtas Committee meetings over the last fifteen months.
Speaking at the AGM as incoming President Paul announced “I am honoured to have been elected as the President of the ITAA, as the organisation does great work in representing Irish travel agents, bringing issues to the public consciousness and inciting positive change.
He continued, “I believe that as a trade representative body, we need to both retain and attract new members, we need to reach out to the entire industry, and we need to continue to be seen as the representative voice for travel.
“We must be relevant and support the members and we should focus on sharing best practice. Considering we have had pretty much zero trading since March 2020, the small number of collapses is a testimony to our resilience and strength as a sector.
“With an end in sight, there are challenges ahead which need to be acknowledged, including managing the return to international travel and ensuring business supports are kept in place as we continue to restart our 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 continue to call on the Government to provide added tailored 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.
Speaking about the urgent need for business supports, Mr. Hackett stated, “Our industry was the first to close and it seems will be the last to re-open.
“We want to open up. We want to get our staff back to work but the reality is that international travel will be slow to restart and anticipated volumes in 2021 are severely limited as already mentioned…
“Travel Agents need assistance to meet the shortfall to bridge the gap from now to when international travel resumes normal service, anticipated to be 2022. With CRSS (COVID Restrictions Support Scheme) now ending, the sector needs support to the end of Q1 2022.”
Other appointments to the ITAA board included Vice-President Clare Dunne and Treasurer Des Abbott.
ITAA AGM is usually held as part of the Irish Travel Trade Show, however due to COVID-19 safety restrictions the sixth annual Irish Travel Trade Show has been postponed until the autumn, dates are to be confirmed.