The Advantage Travel Partnership is urging members to ensure clients are financially protected when booking packages with operators from the Republic of Ireland.

The consortium is issuing advice after recent guidance from the Republic’s Commission for Aviation Regulation (Car), which said Irish tour operator holidays sold to customers of other EU member states will not be covered when departing from outside of the Republic.

The Irish ruling flies in the face of the 2018 Package Travel Regulations, which encouraged mutual recognition of financial protection schemes for EU member states, with the goal for all to be covered under one licence.

The issue largely affects agents in Northern Ireland booking packages with Republic-based operators.

Advantage members in Northern Ireland, of whom there are 43, criticised the confusion. Ian McMichael, holiday development manager at Oasis Travel, said: “No one has explained it yet. Agents don’t get much direction from Car or the CAA. It’s very confusing.

“It’s better when we have a single licence [rather than] twice as much work in terms of providing information to these bodies.”

McMichael said he feared it “could all change again with Brexit”.

Paul Nunn, operations director at Advantage, said: “The Irish government is saying it will protect passengers that depart from the Republic of Ireland, but not those departing Northern Ireland. So Irish operators need to ensure they have protection for those customers.”

Alan Bowen, legal advisor to the UK’s Association of Atol Companies, said: “It looks like multiple licensing will come back. It appears we are going back to where we were before – if you are selling out of the Republic of Ireland, you’ll need Car licences.

“It’s an operator’s responsibility but agents need to make sure there is financial protection for the customer. They should ensure the operator has the correct protection.”

tw4