The Government is considering the ITAA’s representations for additional financial supports and is discussing more targeted enterprise support measures to assist the licensed travel trade sector, according to Hildegarde Naughton TD, Minister of State for Transport, in a letter dated 5 October to Michael Lowry TD.
The letter reads as follows:
Dear Deputy Lowry,
Many thanks for your correspondence regarding the challenges facing travel agents and tour operators due to the Covid-19 pandemic and apologies for the delay in replying.
The travel and aviation sectors are critical enablers of economic activity on this island. Since July I, and officials in my Department, have had a series of ongoing engagements with industry representatives including the Taskforce for Aviation Recovery, the Irish Travel Agents Association (ITAA), airlines and our airports.
I understand that many jobs are at risk and that many firms are under severe financial pressure. Government is committed to supporting businesses and protecting jobs in all sectors impacted by Covid-19. As Minister of State for International and Road Transport and Logistics. I am committed to helping all those working in the travel industry and aviation sector and am working closely with my colleagues across Government including Minister Eamon Ryan TD to ensure we provide all the necessary supports to assist the sector through this crisis.
The travel trade has been able to avail of a range of State supports made available to SME’s including the wage subsidies, deferral of commercial rates and other supports, and the State is also providing a special financial guarantee under a Refund Credit Note scheme for the sector. I am aware that some travel agents and tour operators have had difficulties securing refunds from their suppliers to pass onto their customers, which has caused considerable financial strain in the sector. Mindful of the particular impact on the travel agents, I have written to the two main Irish airlines on the flight refunds issue impressing on them that it is imperative that refund payments that ordinarily would have been made to travel agents are prioritised by them. I understand that progress has been made in this matter.
Finally, I can confirm that the ITAA has made representations on behalf of its members for additional financial supports. These are being considered and I have sought the views of both the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade & Employment Leo Varadkar TD and the Minister for Public Expenditure & Reform Michael McGrath TD on more targeted enterprise support measures to assist the licensed travel trade sector. These discussions are underway in the context of Budget 2021.
Thank you for bringing your concerns to my attention and apologies again for the delay in replying.
Hildegarde Naughton TD
Minister of State for Transport