Thursday, 25 March 2021
Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport
Covid-19 Pandemic Supports
25. To ask the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the current supports available to travel agents enabling them to reimburse consumers who do not wish to avail of refund credit notes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16134/21]
The Government has put in place a comprehensive package to help businesses and workers during the pandemic, including the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS), the Covid Restrictions Support Scheme (CRSS), low-cost loans, the deferral and warehousing of tax liabilities and the waiver of commercial rates. While travels agents and tour operators have benefitted from many of these central measures there is an understandable concern that the travel trade may experience a more prolonged impact on trading than most of the rest of the economy.
Recognising that, the Government is considering what can be done to continue to support jobs and businesses in the event that restrictions – including on international travel – will remain in place longer than any of us want them to. In that context, Minister Ryan and I recently met with the Irish Travel Agents Association, where the sector made the case for continued financial support. The proposals made by the ITAA are being examined. Further, a new Aviation Subgroup, which I chair and which involves both the ICTU and IBEC, has been established under the Labour Employer Economic Forum (LEEF) to examine the key challenges facing Irish aviation now and over the medium term as we being to recover.
The Government remains fully committed to doing everything possible to support all those affected by this terrible virus, including continuing to help businesses survive until such times as they can being to trade again.
As the Deputy is aware, the Refund Credit Note has been an important measure in protecting the cash position of travel firms - who are unquestionably stressed - allowing them to issue notes to the aggregate cash value of around €19M. These notes are State guaranteed, and consumers should have confidence in them. The level of overall consumer protection for people booking travel through licensed Irish travel agents is incredibly strong, and looking forward to more normal times such protection should be something I hope people will reflect on when deciding how to arrange foreign travel.