'Running out of weeks in the summer': Call for extra help for travel agents as warnings against non-essential travel extended 

'Running out of weeks in the summer': Call for extra help for travel agents as warnings against non-essential travel extended 

A relaxation of some travel regulations were due to be put in place this week, but that has now been pushed to July 20 at the earliest.

Travel agents are calling for the Pandemic Unemployment Payment to be extended to March 2021 for staff working in the sector.

Irish Travel Agents Association chief executive officer Pat Dawson, founder and owner of Cork-based Dawson Travel, told The Echo that it would be a necessary measure.

“The Government are going to have to bail out travel agents because we’re Government licensed. They’re basically shutting down our businesses as such - through no fault of their own,” Mr Dawson said.

“We have already written to Ministers in various different departments regarding wanting the Covid payment to our 3,500 staff to run until March 2021 because we’re the worst affected in comparison to any other business.

“Restaurants have been back, bars have been back - we’re worse again if it’s possible to be worse,” he added.

A relaxation of some travel regulations were due to be put in place this week, but that has now been pushed to July 20 at the earliest.

People are still being advised to avoid any non essential travel until that date.

Following a Cabinet meeting Taoiseach Micheál Martin said a so-called "green list" of countries which people can travel to will be published on that date.He also said that the decision will be reviewed every two weeks.

Air bridges are another of the potential easing measures due to come on stream. They were originally touted for July 9, but have now been pushed to July 20 at the earliest.

They would involve a ‘bridge’ being created between Ireland and a number of other countries and would see those travelling to or from those destinations not having to self-isolate for 14 days on arrival in either location.

Mr Dawson said the extension to the restrictions was expected within the industry, but added “it just means further hell for the customer”.

Customers are losing out on refunds as some flights are still operating, but they aren’t travelling due to public health guidelines.

European legislation states that a refund isn’t guaranteed unless a flight doesn’t go.

Mr Dawson also added that most of Europe is “up and flying now” while Ireland and Irish travel agents are “running out of weeks in the summer”.

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