The Irish Travel Agents Association is “extremely concerned” about the over regulation that the Irish travel industry faces in comparison to the rest of Europe. The differences in outdated Irish legislation, which is over 30 years old, compared to upcoming EU travel directives was highlighted at the bi-annual European Travel Agents and Tour Operators Association conference, held in Dublin.
Over 50 of Europe’s leading travel industry professionals discussed tourism regulation, the Package Travel Directive (PTD), air passenger rights legislation, International Air Transport Association – New Distribution Capability (NDC) project and the recent European Court of Justice Court rulings on VAT, all of which affects the European and Irish travel industry.
ITAA President, Clare Dunne said:, “One of the main topics of discussion has been over regulation with Credit Card Bonding, IATA (International Air Transport Association) Bonding and Government Bonding. The issue of bonding imposes onerous financial pressure on travel agents.”
“The bonds exist to protect the interest of the customers of licensed travel trade entities whether they are travel agents or tour operators. It is in place to enable refunds to customers who are unable to have their overseas travel contracts fulfilled or to facilitate the repatriation of customers who are left stranded abroad by virtue of a collapse.”
“Because of separate payment securities implemented by the credit card companies, the ITAA estimates that over 39% of the turnover of agents is double bonded. The Commission for Aviation Regulation (CAR) has noted that ‘all licensable turnover paid by the customers’ credit cards is already bonded under the 1982 act. The imposition of another ‘blanket’ bonding arrangement only penalises the trader as the same money is being bonded twice.
“Travel agents are competing with large airlines who can offer products on their website such as hotels and car hire in addition to flights. These entities do not offer any bonding cover while in effect they are offering the same product as a travel agent.
“SMEs such as travel agents are the backbone of the Irish economy, with 25% of people booking though agents, the typical agent employs four to five people and has a turnover of circa €3 million with margins between one and two percent. The struggle is that they must provide a €10,000 fee relating to bonds such as IATA, credit card and government bonding, causing serious financial hardship.
“It is great that ECTAA have come to Ireland to discuss many of the issues that our industry faces in open frank dialogue. The depth of knowledge, expertise, experience and security that ECTAA members provide to customers is something which will certainly stand us in good stead in the years ahead. However, as a result of conferences such as this, and the support of our individual Governments and the EU, we’re confident that we can overcome these challenges, working together to share knowledge, experiences and campaigning for legislative change to stimulate inward and outward travel to and from all ECTAA member countries.”
ECTAA President Boris Zgomba said,:“I am delighted that the ITAA are hosting the conference in Dublin this year. Ireland has a flourishing tourism industry and has done fantastically well to maintain it over the past few years. Travel is currently the third ranked industry worldwide. In 2030 it is predicted that travel will be the leading world industry.”