The Commission for Aviation Regulation’s 2014 Annual Report, published on Friday, shows that 226 travel agents were licensed last year – the number is way down from the peak of 349 in 2001 but has stabilised since it reached 222 in 2010 – while 46 tour operators were licensed, down from the peak of 77 in 2005.
In 2014 the 4% bond for travel agents totalled €39 million on projected licensable turnover of €982 million (up 6% from €927 million in 2013), while the 10% bond for tour operators totalled €17 million on PLTO of €167 million (down 9% from €184 million in 2013).
State Airports (Shannon Group) Act 2014
The legislation governing travel trade licensing in Ireland was amended by the State Airports (Shannon Group) Act 2014, which was signed into law in August 2014.
Following the amendment retailers and organisers established in other Member States of the European Union do not require a licence from the Commission to provide travel agency or tour operator services in Ireland provided that they satisfy certain conditions.
Such entities may be exempt from the need for a licence if they have evidence of security in respect of the packages they offer for sale or have sold, and they have notified the Commission of their intention to trade in Ireland. The security must be sufficient to pay for repatriations and refunds.
An entity wishing to offer packages in Ireland without an Irish licence must notify the Commission of its intention to do so and provide the following information in English:
Security provider’s name, address and contact details
The full legal name, trading style and address of the security holder
The value of the security (in euros)
A statement that in the event of financial failure the indemnity provider agrees to meet all obligations, including repatriating or refunding travellers, and that the Commission’s role will be limited to notifying the indemnity provider of the entity’s collapse.
To date, no firm has indicated an intention to trade under the provisions introduced by the State Airports (Shannon Group) Act 2014.
In 2014 the Commission commenced or continued investigations into 14 complaints received concerning possible unlicensed trading. Several of the complaints related to companies attempting to operate under the licence of another legal entity, something that is not permissible under Irish legislation.
Eight of the 14 complaints investigated have been resolved to the full satisfaction of the Commission. Two are in the process of being resolved and two are under investigation. The remaining investigations revealed no evidence of unlicensed trading.
To monitor compliance with licence conditions, each year we visit the business premises of a sample of licence holders; 27 licence holders were visited in 2014. In addition to compliance checks, these visits allow the Commission to obtain a better understanding of the organisations licensed and provide an informal opportunity for information exchange.