REPRESENTATIVES from the key sectors of the Northern Ireland travel industry – including travel agents, airlines, ferries and hospitality – were joined by colleagues from across the UK today (Wednesday June 23) for a National Day of Action, under the banner UNITE.
Locally, representatives from the industry gathered at Stormont to lobby politicians on two key issues, the payment of support grants promised to NI travel agents back in March 2021 and the reopening of international travel.
The travel industry has been decimated by the Covid pandemic and Damian Murphy, Chair of Association of Northern Ireland Travel Agents (ANITA), claims that the industry locally will be severely impacted if the current situation continues.
“We are standing alongside our colleagues across the UK travel industry on this important UNITE day of action to highlight the precarious situation our industry is in right now,” said Mr Murphy.
“No business can survive such a prolonged period without any income coming in, which is what travel agents across Northern Ireland have had to endure since March 2020.
“We are calling on the Department for the Economy to make good on its promise of grant aid for travel agents in Northern Ireland, which was made in March of this year yet still hasn’t been paid over.
Damian continued: “Furthermore, we are calling on ministers at Stormont and Westminster to allow international travel to return in a ‘risk managed’ way by properly implementing the Global Travel Taskforce Plan.
“The unlocking of international travel, and hence travel businesses’ ability to trade and generate income again, has been much slower than first anticipated, and more gradual than for businesses in the wider domestic economy. Therefore we would urge our political representatives to take action as quickly as possible before the industry disappears in its current form.”
Damian Murphy and other members of ANITA met with local MLA’s including Mike Nesbitt (UUP), Stewart Dickson (Alliance), Sinead McLaughlin (SDLP) and Caoimhe Archibald (Sinn Fein) at Stormont to hand over a letter from the industry calling for urgent government financial support and the reopening on international travel.