The Irish Travel Agents Association has called for preparations to restart travel in a meeting with the country’s transport committee.
ITAA chief executive Pat Dawson and board member Paul Hackett called for implementation of the EU’s Digital Green Certificate system and for the lifting of restrictions preventing international travel.
The EU parliament voted last week to approve the certificates, which must be introduced by all member states within six weeks.
The ITAA also highlighted the high cost of PCR tests, saying the €100pp cost was “anti-family” and “will act as a deterrent for consumers considering booking trips abroad”.
The delegation also raised the issue of credit card companies requesting “substantial” cash deposits from agents.
“This is a direct challenge to the bonding and licencing arrangements which the government have in place for travel agents,” the association said, calling on government to address this issue “in order to protect the future of the Irish travel industry”.
The ITAA also highlighted the need for sector-specific support for agents, pointing out the delay between advance booking and travel “which means that travel agents often have to wait for a period of many months before they see any revenue from bookings”.
Dawson said: “There is a six to nine-month delay between booking and travel which means that our sector must work for six to nine months before we actually count the income generated from advance bookings.”
He added: “The issue of merchant service providers seeking high cash deposits from travel agents is at odds with the current bonding and licensing arrangements put in place by government to protect travel agents.
“We are calling on government to address this issue immediately to avoid another blow to our industry after such a difficult year. We hope that the committee will take our submissions on board and that we can work together to secure a positive outcome for our members and customers.”
The committee was also warned the Republic could lose out to Northern Ireland if action was not taken to restart travel.
“International Travel will recommence from Northern Ireland’s airports sometime between mid‐May and mid‐June,” the committee was told.
“We have already seen Ryanair open a new base in Belfast City airport adding 10 routes.
"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.”