Irish travel industry confident about July 19th digital travel cert

Certificate should prevent people becoming stranded abroad, says Paul Hackett

Irish Travel Agents Association president Paul Hackett has expressed confidence that the Government will go ahead with the EU digital travel certificate on July 19th.

"I believe it will happen on July 19th," he told Newstalk's Pat Kenny show.

But he added the caveat that indoor hospitality had not been able to open as planned on July 5th.

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The restrictions on non-essential travel were having an impact, not just for travel agents, but also for airlines and airports, he said.


“There is no consumer confidence to book travel at this stage for 19th July.

Mr Hackett pointed out that the digital travel cert was the EU’s answer to a safe return to international travel “because it covers vaccination, recovery from Covid and it covers negative tests from Covid”.

Consumer sentiment was very strong, he said, people wanted to travel. “I have not heard one Government spokesman say July 19th will not happen, the delay in hospitality may help international travel getting those Covid certs issued for July 19th because the Government sees a link between the EU digital Covid cert and the vaccination piece and that being very robust in terms of how the data can be interpreted, so fingers crossed”.

When asked about the possibility of tourists becoming stranded while on holidays if circumstances changed, Mr Hackett, who is co-founder of the travel website, pointed out that the digital travel cert would protect against that.

"All of Europe is buying vaccines from the same pot, the UK is different, that's why the digital cert is only referencing travel within the EU community."

The volumes for travel for the rest of 2021 were not going to be high, he predicted. “It’s going to be fractional compared to 2019, 20 — 25 percent. The group most likely to travel are those fully vaccinated. The risk is reduced.”

The digital cert would be “very equitable”, he said. “It is really well thought through. There is no element of fraud in this.”

Mr Hackett defended comments he had made in the media at the weekend that those who had suffered a financial impact because of the pandemic had suffered a different level of anxiety than those in the public sector.

His comments had not been “sour grapes,” he said. “We’re all concerned in terms of family, friends and the health piece. It then becomes different when you’re faced with job security, or a pay cut, or losing your job, or your industry is effectively locked out of trading, that creates a whole other layer of anxiety and concern. It means real financial hardship for some people.”

Some sections within the public sector had paid staff their entire wage while they worked reduced hours. “Some public bodies were operating at 50 percent, during lockdown if they could not access childcare they could say to their boss, I can’t access childcare and their boss would say you mind your kids you don’t have to work and you get 100 percent of your salary. That’s great in terms of society, and looking after people and childcare ...

“Just saying there has been a difference — it really is important.”

Mr Hackett said he was not including healthcare workers in that comment.

The reality was that the answers in opinion polls about the easing of restrictions would be very different between those who had been financially impacted and those who had not suffered a similar financial impact.

“That’s the crux of the issue.

“It’s totally different if you have to listen to staff who can no longer get a mortgage break, or a mortgage extension, who can’t pay the school fees, who have borrowed intensely to cover their pay cuts — that is really difficult, that’s the reality of a lot in the private sector that have been closed down.”