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18/09/2021

Travel agents urge Government to clear backlog for passport applications

Call for passport office in Sligo

FILE PHOTO

The Irish Travel Agents Association (ITAA) is calling on the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Passport Office to work to process outstanding passport applications in order to avoid a backlog of applications when international travel resumes.

 The Association has expressed its frustration at delays in issuing passports, meaning that some consumers have had to cancel their travel plans.

The ITAA believe that this service is essential and that the backlog must be cleared immediately to allow for faster economic recovery in terms of restarting inbound and outbound tourism. 

The Association has highlighted that these issues are not only affecting leisure travellers, but also business travellers and those wishing to visit friends and family overseas.

Last week Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney said people should not book flights unless the have a valid passport and said more staff are being hired in September.

According to the Department of Foreign Affairs,  the number of online passport applications in the system is currently approximately 95,000.

Pat Dawson, CEO of the ITAA stated, “The Irish Travel Agents Association is frustrated and disappointed at the ongoing delays with the Passport Office. It is unacceptable and a huge blow to those wishing to travel abroad. It is also a blow to Ireland’s travel industry, which has basically been prevented from trading for the past 18 months. These businesses are attempting to claw their way back and are bringing in roughly 15-20% of pre-pandemic levels. The Passport Offices in both Dublin and Cork should be open as an essential service, to allow consumers to apply for passports and renew existing passports.”

He continued, “It will take months to clear the current backlog, and customers who want to book holidays will be forced to wait for their passport application to be approved. The system will be overwhelmed by the backlog in passport renewals and applications, and this will drastically slow the economic recovery of the travel sector both at home and abroad. We are seeking clarification from the Department of Foreign Affairs on this issue, because we want to do what is best for our customers during this extremely stressful time. There is a pent-up demand for travel; people have been through enough during the past eighteen months, and these passport delays will only be another obstacle in the way of things returning to normal.”

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