Travel agents have told an Oireachtas committee they need clarity as to when they can restart trading, with a safe reopening of international corporate and leisure travel.

In an opening statement given to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Transport and Communications Networks ahead of an appearance this afternoon, the Irish Travel Agents Association (ITAA) said hotels in Ireland need to know if they can accept international visitors this year.

ITAA also told the committee that the Government needs to implement the EU's Digital Green Certificate once it becomes law next month and said travel needs to be opened up in and outside of the European Union.

"The UK and USA are core markets for corporate and leisure travel," said ITAA representatives Pat Dawson and Paul Hackett.

"The EU Commission announced a plan for Schengen member states to allow travel from fully vaccinated people and we urge the Irish Government to adopt this proposal."

Further supports for the sector are also needed, the representatives said in their submission, or else there will be further failures, they warned.

"Sympathy and understanding are not something we can pass on to our landlords, IT providers, insurance companies and the staff we must retain," they said.

"So long as there is no income, the travel industry needs to see ongoing support from Government.

"CRSS needs to be repurposed and linked to guidance on International Travel and we hope to see extensions of support beyond the 30th of June. The travel industry needs to see supports continue until we no longer meet the qualifying criteria."


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The organisation also called for plan for the unwinding of the 35 statutory instruments put in place since January to control and limit travel, once vaccination levels reach the 82% mark.

The cost of testing is also a concern for the association, because it said it thinks it is too high, making it a deterrent for families considering international travel.

"We are surprised to see that the Irish Government has not adopted the recommendations of the Ferguson Report on Antigen testing, and we note the irony that the HSE themselves are using Antigen testing in some facilities," the representatives said in their statement.

ITAA also urged the committee to consider the impact that the recommencement of international travel from Northern Ireland's airports over the next month will have.

"We have already seen Ryanair open a new base in Belfast City Airport adding 10 routes," it said.

"Moving assets from the Republic of Ireland is very easy to do and both Aer Lingus and Ryanair have been forced to do so given there is no plan to open Ireland for International Travel."