Northern Ireland travel industry lobbies for international travel restart and grant payment

Representatives from the key sectors of the Northern Ireland travel industry, including travel agents, airlines, ferries and hospitality, have joined in National Day of Action.

They are lobbying politicians at Stormont on two main issues, paying support grants promised to travel agents in March 2021 and the restart of international travel. The travel industry says it 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.

Protestors are calling on politicians to save travel jobs and business, along with pleas to restart international travel. Credit: Pacemaker

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 the Association of Northern Ireland Travel Agents met with local MLA’s including Mike Nesbitt (UUP), Stewart Dickson (Alliance), Sinead McLaughlin (SDLP) and Caoimhe Archibald (Sinn Fein) at Stormont.

They handed over letters from the industry calling for urgent government financial support and the reopening on international travel.