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08 Dec 2021

Foyle MLA McLaughlin: Executive Office failing travel agents

Sinead McLaughlin

Sinead McLaughlin: "The support provided to our travel agents from the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic has been wholly inadequate."

SDLP Foyle MLA Sinéad McLaughlin has said The Executive Office has failed to adequately support the travel sector throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

Ms McLaughlin was speaking ahead of a briefing on the Travel Agents Coronavirus Financial Assistance Scheme.

Restrictions on air travel, along with quarantine laws being enforced as well as a number of countries being 'no-go-zones' has see the sector's purse-strings take a massive hit.

Ms McLaughlin insisted that much of this could have been mitigated by the Executive and that Joint First Ministers, Paul Givan and Michelle O'Neill, must step up to the plate and give the travel sector the financial support that it needs.

She said: “The support provided to our travel agents from the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic has been wholly inadequate.

“As a result these employers, many of them family owned and operating for decades have been pushed to the brink, with some considering closing their doors for good due to unmanageable financial pressures.

“Questions must also be asked why the burden of providing support to travel agents has fallen on The Executive Office when surely it’s support that should have been administered by the Department for the Economy (DfE).

“The DfE has provided support to much of our business sector during the pandemic so it strikes me as unusual that this issue has fallen into the remit of The Executive Office.

“Regardless of who pays the money these employers need support and they need it now.

“While our travel market is reopening as the Covid situation allows, it could be some time before our travel agents return to anything resembling normality.

“Our Joint First Ministers need to step up and provide the funding that allows these employers to remain operating and to retain their staff while the global travel market gets back on its feet.”

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