The Irish Travel Agents Association (ITAA) has stated that increases in 2021 bookings have been minimal so far, due in part to the slow rollout of vaccinations and consumers lingering fears surrounding Covid-19.
The Association believes that higher levels of vaccinations are needed before a safe return to international travel will be viable.
The majority of bookings being made at the moment are from consumers rescheduling trips which were due to take place in 2020, and were disrupted by the outbreak of the pandemic.
Most bookings are being made for the latter part of 2021, with many travel agents apprehensive to proceed with bookings without certainty to protect customers and avoid last minute cancellations and disruptions as seen in 2020.
“So far there has been a trickle of bookings from September onwards, but no great numbers to any particular destination. In addition to this, younger people probably won’t receive the vaccine until sometime in late summer, which has certainly had an effect on bookings. We expect that bookings won’t really kick off until greater numbers of the population have received the vaccine, and a quicker vaccine rollout would enable a safe return to travel in time for summer 2021,” said Pat Dawson, ITAA CEO.
As the situation with Covid-19 is constantly changing, with guidelines and rules on vaccines varying from country to country, the Association has also warned customers to take care when making bookings for 2021 and to carefully read all terms and conditions, as flight changes and cancellation policies vary from airline to airline.
The ITAA has advised consumers to ensure that they are booking with a company established in Ireland, as they will be subject to Irish consumer law under the Commission for Aviation Regulation (CAR).
“We are urging customers to book with Irish-based travel agents and to carefully read all terms and conditions before making a booking, as different airlines have different policies surrounding flight disruptions and cancellations. This is still a fluid situation, with guidelines changing on a daily basis from country to country," continued Mr Dawson.
"If you are unsure about anything, contact your ITAA member travel agent who will assist you with any queries you may have.”