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Safe International Travel Proposal In & Outbound Travel from the I.T.O.A.

Safe International Travel Proposal In & Outbound Travel from the I.T.O.A.

The ITOA represent 31 of Ireland’s leading inbound tour operators whose sole focus is on packaging and selling all facets of the Irish tourism product to overseas leisure and business consumers, through the global travel trade distribution channel.

ITOA members deliver significant business to a wide variety of Irish tourism businesses annually. They promote and sell Ireland to the highest yielding of our international visitor categories – holiday-makers and business tourists. These are the visitors who stay the longest and explore the most regions – spreading economic benefit into local economies and across the island. Accommodation accounted for almost two-thirds of total expenditure, with transport and attractions/entertainment/dining/activities being the other key suppliers.
ITOA members are Irish based organisations and they support 871 jobs directly. Given the extensive procurement of tourism services and products nationally ITOA members support 22,500 jobs across the industry.
ITOA members are a vital supply chain and distribution channel, providing in excess of 700,000 international holiday and business visitors to the island of Ireland annually. Ireland’s tourism industry depends on overseas tourism for 75% of its revenue, €7.5 billion annually. ITOA members expect to play a significant role in the initial sector-wide response to the unprecedented challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic.
ITOA members will be at the forefront of restarting international tourism in the marketplace while also ensuring consumer confidence is maintained and boosted, during the fragile early stages of recovery. The largest indigenous industry, tourism can be measured as having economic, social, cultural and environmental value;

Proposal – Opening Ireland’s Access & Connectivity

It is essential that a longer-term solution to Ireland’s re-opening to international markets is provided. We will need to find a way to coalesce with the Covid-19 virus while the world awaits a vaccine. Lifting existing travel restrictions both in Ireland and across the globe will need to be done in a way that ensures public safety in every country and provides the assurance required for people to travel both for essential and leisure travel. Tourism is an internationally traded service; it relies on unhindered access to travel but in the covid world this can only be enabled where the appropriate health and safety measures are in place. It is also important to provide a level of comfort for Irish tourism businesses and hubs, many whom are rurally and regionally based, to enable them to welcome back visitors with confidence.
In June the European commissioner for Home Affairs called upon members states to lift their border restrictions. This was achieved through specific agreement amongst neighbouring countries, air bridge agreements and traffic light coding for safe travel country lists. Ireland continues to be one of very few European countries that has retained quarantine arrangements with a punitive 14 days self-isolation requirement.
The process has been cumbersome and unclear causing confusion for in and out bound travel and ongoing damage to the travel and tourism sectors.
The proposed restriction easing of the development of a green list of countries with similar levels of containment and that remains under review bi-weekly is welcome for the short term but there has to be a more comprehensive solution provided for the medium to longer term if the Irish tourism industry and aviation sector is to be given any opportunity of meaningful recovery.
Tour Operators provide packaged product 8-12 months in advance to their overseas in-market travel trade partners and consumers. If we are to commence recovery in 2021 we must have a better solution to create travel confidence and comfort to Irish residents and tourism businesses that we can welcome visitors who have TESTED negative to carrying the virus. This will enable the ITOA, a vital supply chain and distribution channel, to lead out with reassuring message both to our potential markets and to our host communities.
The Solution:
A PAN-European aligned system is recommended to provide clarity, critical mass and robust protocols that will ensure the success of the scheme.
TEST, Track and Trace are the critical components to ensure public health measures and safety are adhered to.
• Similar to a tropical disease’s passport, the Covid-19 travel passport will provide end to end health security, with responsibility for this lying with the traveller.

• Persons wishing to travel must avail of a reasonably priced (set fee to be agreed by Government to approved testing clinics) between 48 – 72 hours prior to travel. (appropriate timing to be in line with epidemiological/scientific advice).

• Test results must be provided and down loaded to a Covid Travel App (existing Government approved Health App in each country or preferably a European travel app) 24 hours in advance – negative providing green light – positive result red light. A down load of the approval cert should also be available to print.

• Where a customer is provided with a positive test, they should be given the opportunity without a penalty fee to change/alter their flight date within 6-12 months from original travel date. Similar deferral arrangements should be provided by other travel package providers without penalty. Relevant European legislation governing consumer protection should be altered for the duration of the pandemic until such time as a vaccine is available.

• On return from an overseas trip a similar testing regime, at consumers own cost, should be available and individuals self-isolate until such time as they receive results to determine return to work etc.

• Non-EU residents should be provided with the opportunity to avail of the travel app (at a cost similar to an ESTA) and apply the same testing regime in order to access European member states.

• This solution ensures that travel is safe not just from the port of departure but from the time the persons leaves their home. This will avoid delays within the travel cycle and perhaps limitsocial distancing requirement given all persons traveling will have negative cert. It prevents unnecessary congestion and delays through ports and within destinations.

• Protocols for containment should a person fall ill during travel will still apply in-destination.

• Travel insurance: Regular travel insurance may then apply as travellers will have tested negative in advance of travel – however insurers may still apply a covid exempt policy i.e. traveller bears the costs for treatment and isolation if required while overseas. Optional cover may also be available.

• If a traveller is suspected to have Covid-19 symptoms, at a port, the operator should have the right to re-test to ensure the tourist is free of the virus

ITOA MEMBERS – DELIVERING FOR IRISH TOURISTS

 Collectively ITOA members deliver 705,000 international visitors to Ireland annually both
holiday-makers and business tourism visitors.

o 415,000 visitors on escorted group touring holidays.

o 230,500 visitors on(FIT)independent travel and chauffeur drive holidays.
o 59,500 Conference,Meeting&Incentive events.

 Generating €800 Million to Irish tourism businesses and the wider economy.

 Collectively spend €12.5 M marketing Ireland internationally – equivalent to an additional 33%
of existing exchequer promotional marketing budget through Tourism Ireland.

 ITOA visitors stay longer and spend more – average length of stay 8 nights and tourists that
pend +20% more than the national average at €904.

 Strongest distribution channel of visitors to regional Ireland with 63% of all ITOA holiday
makers visiting the regions.

 ITOA members employ 871 people and support 22,500 jobs within the wider tourism economy.

 4,000 international travel partners regard ITOA members as trusted providers and experts on
Ireland packaged holiday and business tourism products.

 Large numbers of tourism businesses are reliant on ITOA members business – in particular
transport, coach and chauffeur drive, tour guides, visitor attractions and entertainment venues derive significant business from our packaged programmes.

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Michael Flood is the Editor of Ireland's leading travel industry publication, Irish Travel Trade News. With more than 35 years experience, he has accumulated an in-depth knowledge of the airline industry and the travel and tourism world.

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