Irish Travel Agents Association Calls For Processing Of Outstanding Passport Applications
The Irish Travel Agents Association (ITAA) has called on the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Passport Office to work to process outstanding passport applications to clear a backlog of applications.
As reported by The Irish Independent, ITAA's call comes the Passport Office is dealing with a backlog of 95,000 passport applications that has caused delays in issuing thousands of passports and resulted in some applicants having had to cancel travel plans.
The backlog is reportedly due to a combination of a large number of last-minute submissions after the lifting of travel restrictions last month, the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic-related shutdown, an estimated 30% shortfall in normal employee levels and issues with supporting documentation for paper-based applications.
43,000 of the 95,000 passport that are still in the system reportedly represent incomplete applications where further documentation is being awaited.
ITAA Chief Executive Statements
The Irish Independent quotes ITAA chief executive Pat Dawson as saying, "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."
Dawson reportedly added, "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."
Dawson reportedly also said that there is pent-up demand for travel, and, "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."
© 2021 Hospitality Ireland – your source for the latest industry news. Article by Dave Simpson. Click subscribe to sign up for the Hospitality Ireland print edition.