The Irish government is being further urged to provide support for thousands of travel agents struggling as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Measures such as wage subsidies and grants are needed to help repair damage to travel businesses in Ireland in the wake of the pandemic, according to the Irish Travel Agents Association (ITAA).

A petition is being handed into the Dublin Dáil [parliament] highlighting the concerns of agents and consumers over the future of the Irish travel trade.

The initiative was developed by travel agents to raise awareness of the difficulties faced by the sector since the pandemic hit Ireland.

The association issued a plea for urgent government assistance to help its members last month.

The ITAA is meeting the government to ensure that the industry will be revived and open for business when consumer confidence returns.

An extention of the ‘green list’ of countries exempted from quarantine restrictions is being reviewed, which the association hopes will be a positive step towards rebuilding consumer confidence.

ITAA chief executive Pat Dawson said: “The travel industry has been forced into lockdown for an indefinite period of time due to the outbreak of Covid-19.

“We want to work with government to save lives and keep our families, our staff, our clients and our communities safe, but we also need to preserve our businesses so that we can resume operations when it is safe to do so.

“We are hopeful that with government assistance, we will be able to save the 3,500 jobs that are currently at risk in the Irish travel industry. These businesses were viable before the pandemic and I have no doubt that they will continue to be viable after the threat of Covid-19 has passed.”

He added: “The current travel restrictions provide no relief to either inbound or outbound travel, which will have a knock on effect on the Irish travel industry well into the future.

“We are calling on the government to make a clear decision on the current guidelines so that we can begin to rebuild our industry.

“Irish people love to travel; as soon as it is declared safe to travel again we believe that consumer confidence will be restored. Until that happens, we need support from government to protect our customers and our businesses.”