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Travel agents – Move forward on lifting visiting restrictions

Their industry body expressed disappointment that there were no indications of change before June 29.

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Irish travel agents have urged the Government to move forward on lifting restrictions on visiting other EU countries (Brian Lawless/PA).

Irish travel agents have urged the Government to move forward on lifting restrictions on visiting other EU countries (Brian Lawless/PA).

Irish travel agents have urged the Government to move forward on lifting restrictions on visiting other EU countries (Brian Lawless/PA).

Irish travel agents have urged the Government to move forward on lifting restrictions on visiting other EU countries.

Their industry body expressed disappointment that there were no indications of change before June 29, despite positive data on suppressing spread of coronavirus.

Irish Travel Agents Association (ITAA) chief executive officer Pat Dawson said there was no basis for maintaining the advice when every other industry was opening up.

He said: “The travel sector has been hit the hardest by the Covid-19 pandemic, and we are concerned that we will be the last industry to get a restart date.

“This delay easing travel restrictions will further hurt our industry, as Irish customers will be forced to wait to book their holidays.

“This will drastically slow the recovery of the Irish travel sector.”

He said the rest of the EU was looking at opening up its borders for international travel, but the Irish Government appeared to be “hesitating” and causing a delay in returning to normal economic activity.

“Inbound and outbound travel goes hand in hand, and by easing travel restrictions within the EU this we could work to repair some of the damage done by Covid-19 to the Irish travel sector,” he said.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has previously discussed the possibility of air travel resuming this summer, initially through the use of “air bridges” with countries that are deemed to have the pandemic under control.

Mr Dawson added: “We welcome the idea of these air bridges, and have been discussing this as an option with a number of tourist boards from other countries.

“Naturally, the safety and well-being of our customers our top priority, however the introduction of air bridges would allow for safe, controlled travel both in and out of Ireland and would help to revive the Irish travel sector.”

PA