Ireland’s Joe Walsh Tours has shut its doors after some 60 years in business.
The Irish Commission for Aviation Regulation (CAR) confirmed the agency ceased trading on Tuesday (27 April).
Pat Dawson, chief executive of the Irish Travel Agents’ Association (ITAA), said it was a "sad day" for the industry, and one that reflected the challenges the travel sector continues to face amid the ongoing Covid crisis.
"Joe Walsh Tours was established in 1961 and was one of Ireland’s leading travel companies through the decades, and certainly one of the best known," said Dawson.
"Indeed, many travel agents throughout the country learned their trade with JWT before opening up their own travel agencies."
Dawson called on the Irish government to extend its support for the country’s travel sector. "This closure highlights the difficulties the travel industry has been experiencing," he said.
"The Irish Travel Agents Association calls on the government to extend income support for travel agents into 2022 when the public are back travelling and holidaying again."
A note on the JWT website confirmed it had ceased trading, and set out provisions for affected customers.
"Joe Walsh Pilgrimtours Ltd would like to thank customers for their loyalty over the years and for their support and understanding during this time," it read.
"Any customer of Joe Walsh Pilgrimtours Ltd with monies paid towards a cancelled booking or future travel package originating in Ireland should contact the Commission for Aviation Regulation (CAR) and make a claim."
Flight-inclusive packages originating in the UK, meanwhile, are protected by a total payment protection policy operated by Travel & General Insurance Services Ltd
The CAR said Joe Walsh Pilgrimtours Ltd, trading as Concorde Travel, Joe Walsh Tours, Cara Holidays and Pilgrimages Abroad, was unable to fulfil its obligations to its customers.
"The commission operates a consumer protection scheme and, if you find you are out of pocket, you may be covered by this scheme," it said.
"The commission also operates a refund credit note scheme. You may be covered by this scheme if your holiday has been cancelled due to Covid-19 and you have yet to receive a refund from Joe Walsh Pilgrimtours Ltd."
Dawson added: "As a bonded travel agent, Joe Walsh Tours customers who booked travel commencing in Ireland may be eligible for a refund under the commission’s consumer protection scheme. We advise anyone affected to contact CAR and complete a claim form."