The Irish Travel Agents Association has called on the Government to dig deeper and provide more funds for the industry to help offset the impact of coronavirus.
The Government has already put in place a package, including extra money for the HSE as well as company loans and payroll support, that it says is worth €3bn.
“While the ITAA welcomes relief announced earlier this week, it is now calling on the Government to consider extraordinary support measures for travel and tourism businesses during the Covid-19 outbreak,” the association said yesterday.
According to data from the Central Statistics Office, overseas travel to Ireland generated earnings of €6.9bn in 2019.
The St Patrick’s Day celebrations, a major attraction and earner for the industry, have already been cancelled because to the spread of the virus across the world.
“A prolonged period of travel restrictions will lead to a significant drop in the numbers of public travelling and ultimately to job losses in the Irish travel sector,” the travel agents said.
The body asked the Government to consider measures such as bridging loans, relief on business rates, and VAT and PAYE deadline extensions and relief.
It said that it wanted an agreement on a payment equivalent equal to weekly social welfare payments to be made to employers which could help businesses to maintain salaries for 6-12 weeks.
Official data shows that the tourism and hospitality industry here employs 150,000-250,000 people, depending on the methodology used to calculate the numbers when seasonal workers and other factors are included.