The reopening of the US for fully vaccinated foreign nationals from November 8th is "a shot in the arm" for the travel industry, the chief executive of the Irish Travel Agents Association has said.
Pat Dawson said the association greatly welcomed the development, adding "there is a lot of pent up demand for the States".
The White House confirmed on Friday its new travel system would start in three weeks' time, ending the series of travel restrictions that have been in place since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.
From November 8th, the US will admit fully vaccinated foreign air travellers from the 26 so-called Schengen countries in Europe, including France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Switzerland and Greece, as well as Britain, Ireland, China, India, South Africa, Iran and Brazil.
Kevin Munoz, a White House spokesman, said on Twitter that the new rules would apply to "both international air travel and land travel".
“It’s great news for all sorts of reasons, particularly family and friends going over and getting to see each other after a very long time,” Mr Dawson told The Irish Times.
“I’m like everybody else, I’ve family and grandchildren in Florida and I haven’t seen them for two years. There’ll be massive relief for all of those people and of course for business as well.
“It’s a shot in the arm for the industry. There is a lot of pent up demand for the States and it will certainly be great for the Irish economy. There’s no doubt about it, the US market probably makes up about 15 per cent of business for travel agents. It’s high spent and high end.”
Mr Dawson said the only thing travel agents would be concerned about is airline capacity, adding “we need to have the right capacity because if you don’t, you have bad prices ... that’s what we’ll be watching”.
Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan said he welcomed the confirmation that the US will open up to fully vaccinated travellers from next month.
“This is especially important for families and loved ones who haven’t seen each other for a long time, and for businesses on both sides of the Atlantic who can now reconnect in person,” Mr Ryan said.
"It will also help Aer Lingus and other airlines as they work to restore connectivity between Ireland and the United States. I'd like to thank our diplomats who've worked on this alongside their EU colleagues."
Non-US air travellers will need to show proof of vaccination before boarding a flight to the US, and will need to show proof of a recent negative Covid-19 test. Foreign visitors crossing a land border will not need to show proof of a recent negative Covid-19 test.