Northern Ireland’s politicians have been urged to act to support the travel industry during a demonstration at the Assembly in Belfast.
Banners were held aloft and a letter was handed to the chairwoman of Stormont’s economy committee during the UK travel industry’s day of action on Wednesday.
Damien Murphy, chairman of the Association of Northern Ireland Travel Agents, said all those in the travel sector were present from hoteliers, tour operators, pilots, cabin crew and ferries to support the message.
Handing a letter to Caoimhe Archibald, he pressed for the reopening of foreign travel as well as the payment of support grants which he said were promised to travel agents back in March.
“Our ask is a two-pronged ask, we know that this is a tricky situation and that it is not that straightforward to resume foreign travel,” he said.
“We ask that it is done in a risk managed way, we ask that you listen to the global taskforce report and we know that it has to be done slowly and cautiously, we accept that, that is not what we are shouting loudest about.
“We also think that it is time to take into account the fact that double vaccinated people possibly should be treated differently to the non vaccinated. The rest of the UK seem to have a vaccine passport ready digitally, we’ve been told that possibly July we will have it in paper form, we think that is not good enough.
“But overall we have to talk about the economic impact and the financial support for our industry. As you know we were promised a support package back in March, we were told we would be emailed in April to confirm and here we are, almost in July, and not one email has been sent.
“We have asked continuously but we think we are being pushed aside … please give us a date, tell us when it is coming, we need to balance our books, we need to be able to move forward, and obviously going forward we are now going to have to survive much longer without any financial income whatsoever, so we are going to need some further support to get us to the end of the year.”
Ms Archibald responded, saying she would make their case to the Department of the Economy.