There has been "a big avalanche" of people rebooking holidays for summer 2021, the Irish Travel Agents Association has said.
Pat Dawson, chief executive of the association, said people who had booked holidays for this summer have either pushed their breaks back until the autumn or to next year.
“People who had booked holidays for May, June and July are doing either of two things – pushing them out until September, October, November or switching their holidays until next year,” Mr Dawson told The Irish Times.
“There has certainly been a big avalanche of bookings, surprisingly, people booking for summer 2021.”
Mr Dawson said travel agents are “the worst off” industry due to Covid-19.
"I don't think any travel agent in Ireland has taken in any money from March 1st and certainly we don't visualise any money until September or October, not one cent, at the earliest," he said.
“Now people pay a deposit but that deposit then goes, it doesn’t go to the travel agent, it goes straight to the airline or straight to a deposit on a cruise ship or whatever it is.”
Mr Dawson said without the Government’s wage subsidy scheme half of the country’s travel agents “would be gone overnight”.
‘Behind the scenes’
“We have to stay open because we have to keep the customer informed, flights are cancelled or being changed, resorts are closing. We’re all working behind the scenes...Travel agents are talking to their customers every hour of the day,” he added.
Eoghan Corry, travel writer and publisher of Travel Extra magazine, said "everything is currently focused around changing and rebooking".
“Everybody is looking at existing bookings, mostly for the summer, and saying where am I going to move that to. Until really only this week they only really had the option to move that to September, October, and that wasn’t much help to them,” he said.
"But for the first time, about a quarter or a third of the schedule for Ryanair has been loaded for summer. Normally they would do the big routes, like Ireland to London, they're actually loading them for sun routes and that's created the first outlet, the first little chance for people to do a serious rescheduling of a holiday."
Mr Corry said many people had been in touch with him, worried about holidays they had booked for November and December.
“It’s now dawning on people that this isn’t going to go away as quickly or as cleanly as we expected,” he added.