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Travel Agents Call on Government to Start Preparing to Open Up Country Safely

Travel Agents Call on Government to Start Preparing to Open Up Country Safely

The Irish Travel Agents Association (ITAA) today welcomed the European Commission proposal to create a Digital Green Certificate to facilitate the safe free movement of citizens within the EU during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Digital Green Certificate is an integral part of the European Commission strategy on ‘A common path to a safe and sustained re-opening’.

The proposed Digital Green Certificates will be valid in all EU Member States.  A Digital Green Certificate is a digital proof that a person has either been vaccinated against COVID-19, received a negative test result or recovered from COVID-19.

Pat Dawson, ITAA CEO

Pat Dawson, CEO of the ITAA said, “This the first step towards a common path to a safe and sustained re-opening of the travel industry, ensuring the safe movement of people from EU country to country, whether a business or leisure traveller. It can only be welcomed. The next step is for our government to move fast and start preparing for opening up safely.”

“As representatives of the travel industry, we are calling on Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan to respond positively to this move. We are calling on him to meet with us and others involved in the industry, to plan a strategy on the reopening of our country and air routes.”

“The ITAA are not encouraging anyone to travel at the moment or to consider travel until Public Health says otherwise. However, we have been calling on Government for pre-departure airport testing for months. Travel is not just ‘bucket and spades’ leisure holidays. It is also corporate travel and for those who need to visit friends and relatives.”

He continued, “The travel and tourism industry has been the heaviest hit in Ireland with 400,000 jobs affected. That’s 140,000 jobs in Aviation, 250,000 in hospitality and others working with inbound and outbound travel, that’s over 400,000 jobs. There have four separate pieces of legislation on travel since January – it is probably the most legislated sector. We now need to think of path for recovery and the EU are calling for this to be coordinated.”

Michael Doorley, President ITAA

Michael Doorley, President of the ITAA said, “This European Commission proposal charts the way ahead for a balanced policy and common EU approach, pointing to what needs to be done to advance the time when we can recover our European way of life, and do so in a safe and sustainable way with control over the virus. While health policy requires continued control until a sufficient vaccination coverage is achieved, the conditions must be created across the Single Market to allow for safe and sustained re-opening, so that citizens can enjoy their rights and economic and social activity can resume.”

Under the European Commission proposal national governments will be in charge of issuing the Digital Green Certificates. They will be accepted in all EU Member States and will help to ensure that restrictions currently in place can be lifted in a coordinated manner. When travelling, every EU citizen or third-country national legally staying or residing in the EU, who holds a Digital Green Certificate, should be exempted from free movement restrictions in the same way as citizens from the visited Member State.

If a Member State continues to require holders of a Digital Green Certificate to quarantine or test, it must notify the Commission and all other Member States and justify this decision.

ECTAA – The European Travel Agents’ and Tour Operators’ Associations, state, “The European Parliament and the Council should fast-track discussions, reach an agreement on the proposal for a Digital Green Certificate, and agree an approach to a safe opening based on a solid scientific framework. The European Commission will continue supporting the ramping up of vaccines production, and pursue technical solutions to increase interoperability of national systems to exchange data. Member States should accelerate vaccination programmes, ensure that temporary restrictions are proportionate and non-discriminatory, designate contact points to collaborate on wastewater surveillance and report on efforts made, and launch the technical implementation of the Digital Green Certificates in view of the fast-tracked adoption of the proposal.”

 

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Fionn Davenport is the editor-in-chief of the ITTN group, including ITTN and ITTN Ireland. He's one of Ireland's best-known travel journalists and writers, with nearly 30 years' experience writing guidebooks for Lonely Planet and others.

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