ITAA calls on Government to implement credit notes for holidaymakers affected by COVID-19 pandemic

The Irish Travel Agents Association (ITAA) is deeply concerned by the current COVID -19 crisis and the impact it is having on member travel agents and their customers, and are strongly urging the government to implement credit notes for holidaymakers whose holidays have been cancelled due to the worldwide pandemic.

The travel sector is a strong and dynamic industry which employs over 3,500 people across Ireland, mainly in small, family-run businesses which have been operating for generations. As a result of the pandemic, many of these businesses have been left without income for the foreseeable future, and are under huge financial strain.

Travel agents are experts in their field, and afford their customers a level of personal service and a sense of security which is absent when booking a ‘do-it-yourself’ holiday. Unlike airlines, travel agents are also highly regulated, licensed and bonded under the Commission for Aviation Regulation (CAR), which  ensures the safety of the customers money should anything go wrong. As well as this, most travel agents are local businesses and an integral part of communities across Ireland, with many travel agents knowing their customers on a first-name basis.

Travel agents are in a difficult position, as in most cases flights have already been paid for in order to ensure the best price for the customer. With airlines refusing to refund travel agents the cost of the flights, it is impossible for ITAA member travel agents to provide all customers with full refunds for bookings. The ITAA are asking that these refund credit notes are fully backed bonded with CAR.

Since the widespread outbreak of COVID-19 in February, travel agents have been working hard around the clock to assist their customers by securing refunds and changing travel arrangements where possible. Travel agents have dealt with thousands of holiday makers over the course of this pandemic and many other crises which have occurred in recent years, always ensuring that the customer takes top priority.

The ITAA is asking the Government to be mindful of the pressures faced by small travel businesses across the country as the Coronavirus situation progresses, and to consider supporting the travel industry with the introduction of credit notes for affected customers. Travel agents are an integral part of local communities, and it is vital that customers continue to show their support for local businesses.

ITAA CEO Pat Dawson stated; “While the ITAA welcome the support the industry has received so far, we are now calling on the Government to support vulnerable travel and tourism businesses during the pandemic. The implementation of credit notes for affected customers may help to protect otherwise healthy businesses that are suffering financially as a result of the current situation with the Coronavirus.”

“Current COVID-19 travel restrictions have regrettably already resulted in to job losses in the Irish travel sector. The ITAA are concerned that their members could be at risk of going out of business, and are looking for support and assistance from the Government during this difficult time for the industry.“