A group of Irish travel agents will be travelling to Dublin next week to urge action from the government to prevent more than 3,000 jobs being lost in the sector.
Around 15 agents from across the country will be presenting a petition to politicians at the Dail (Irish parliament) on Wednesday (9 September).
The SaveTravel in Ireland campaign is pleading with politicians to restore the country’s Covid-19 wage subsidy back to its original level of €350 per week per employee.
The subsidy was reduced to €203 per week on 1 September which campaigners say will lead to the loss of 3,000 travel agency jobs.
Petition organiser Linda Jones, owner of The Travel Boutique, told TTG the cut in the subsidy meant many agencies were already having to make staff redundant or reduce their hours to two days per week.
“No company can afford to keep paying staff when they’ve had zero income for six months,” she said.
“If they restored the subsidy to €350 until next April or May, then you could keep your staff until you start getting summer balances and get the cashflow going again.”
The petition also calls for changes to the Irish government’s current advice against all non-essential travel to all countries, apart from a handful of “green list” destinations that are exempt from this advice – this green list does not include the UK (apart from Northern Ireland).
“Our government has essentially prevented us from trading for the last six months and we have no restart date due to the non-essential travel ban and the 14-day quarantine rule,” added Jones.
“We have to maintain our premises and we want to retain our staff because they are a very valuable asset. We’re in a really difficult situation at the moment.”
The petition has so far been signed by more than 6,500 people with the hope of getting even more support before it is handed over to the government next week.
Jones said they also hoped to secure a meeting with the Taoiseach (prime minister) or his deputy to discuss the issues agents are facing due to the pandemic.
As part of the campaign, agents in Ireland have also been sending letters and arranging face-to-face meetings with local politicians and ministers to express their concerns over the government’s Covid-19 measures.
“We’re all trying to work together – the face-to-face meetings have been the best way to get our message across,” said Jones.
The petition – entitled Save 3,000 Irish Travel Industry Jobs – can be found at change.org