The tourism industry is calling on the Government to make its plans for international travel clear as soon as possible.
The Government looks set to adopt a totally new approach to international travel from next week.
Announcing the new five-level ‘Living with COVID’ plan this morning, the Taoiseach Micheál Martin said Ireland would ‘broadly support’ the European Commission’s proposal for travel across the bloc.
The Commission’s proposal will see a new ‘traffic light’ system introduced with regions designated, green, orange or red, depending on the number of new cases per 100,000 people over a two-week period.
The system is expected to be introduced at a meeting of the EU General Affairs Council on October 13th; however, Ireland is likely to open up travel to countries that would be designated green, based on current figures, from Monday.
This afternoon, the Irish Travel Agents Association (ITAA) said it was disappointed to have to wait another month for further updates to the green list.
“We were disappointed to hear that there will be no further updates on the travel industry until the 13th of October, a whole month away from now,” said ITAA CEO Pat Dawson.
“We believe that the Government are simply postponing outcomes and putting the Irish travel industry on the long finger, which will lead to another month filled with stress and uncertainty for our member travel agents. A lot can change in a month.”
He said the Government must put in place new grants and wage subsidies for workers in the industry.
Meanwhile, the Incoming Tour Operators Association (ITOA) said it was cautiously welcoming the plan to use the EU Commission plan.
“We now expect the Government to promptly and fully adopt the traffic light system proposed for EU member states,” said ITOA President Rob Rankin.
“Further detail on how and when the system will be implemented in Ireland needs to be published immediately to give assurance to tourism businesses and international visitors that Ireland is open for business in 2021.
“Another year without international tourism will result in an over €5 billion loss to the economy in addition to the loss of thousands of rural jobs.”
The plan also promises to develop guidance for events in ‘very large purpose-built event facilities,’ something the Association of Irish Professional Conference Organisers (AIPCO) said must be released without delay.
AIPCO Chair Ronan Flood said the association has “serious concerns” about the 100-person limit on other indoor events, “which are the lifeblood for our members who professionally manage them safely and successfully.”
“Why are these business events - which as a matter of course keep a record of who attends, how and where they are seated - limited to 100 people, when thousands of people pass through retail environments across the country every day of the week?” he said.
“We are eager to comply with any and all restrictions around seating, one-way traffic and mask-wearing, but our fear is that this 100-person limit would render our events non-viable.”