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Ryanair adds new green list flights from Ireland 'due to popular demand'

"There is pent-up demand for travel, and we are facilitating that," says one Irish travel agent a week after publication of Ireland's 'green list'

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Santorini, Greek Cyclades

Santorini, Greek Cyclades

Santorini, Greek Cyclades

Ryanair is launching new direct flights from Dublin to the Greek islands of Mykonos and Corfu, due to what it says is "popular demand".

The routes, set to take off from August 17 and 20 respectively, follow a new direct service from Dublin to Santorini announced last week.

The airline will also increase frequencies from Dublin to Chania, it says.

"Go Green, Go Greece" is the headline on a press release advertising the flights, which passengers can now book from €29.99 each-way.

Greece is one of 15 countries on Ireland's 'green list' published a week ago - from which travellers do not need to restrict their movements for 14 days on return.

Contacted by the Irish Independent, Ryanair did not specify what "popular demand" meant in terms of bookings, but referred to an earlier statement, in which it called Ireland's 'green list' "bonkers".

A week on, that green list continues to stoke debate... and confusion.

Despite its publication, the Government has said "the safest thing to do is not to travel", while Nphet and several high-profile public health experts have made clear they would prefer people to holiday at home.

However, the Department of Foreign Affairs has downgraded its travel advice from "avoid non-essential travel" to "normal precautions" for green list countries.

It also now explicitly states that the 15 destinations are "exempted" from Ireland's general "non-essential travel" advisory.

In the past week, a small number of holidaymakers have voted with their feet.

Dublin Airport has reported a minor bump in passenger numbers, with an average of 13,500 people a day now passing through since July 21.

That compares to an average of almost 12,000 in the weeks beforehand, but is down a massive 88pc on last July's average of 112,000 passengers daily.

Aer Lingus said it did not have "specific information on booking numbers", but added that, of the countries on the 'green list', it is currently flying to three Italian cities - Rome, Verona and Venice.

“The ‘green list’ is more restrictive than in any country in Europe," it said.

Pat Dawson, CEO of the Irish Travel Agents' Association (ITAA), says he believes people can go to 'green list' countries as long as they proceeded with caution.

"It's obeying Government rules."

Like many in the industry, he has been frustrated by the mixed messaging surrounding overseas travel, but says ITAA members were starting to see a small "bump" in enquiries and bookings.

"There is certainly more life in it, that's for sure - but the problem is we saw what happened with the UK and Spain. People are still very nervous.... and [the bump] won't pay any travel agents' wages."

Along with Ryanair, a number of Irish travel agents have begun to sell holidays to green-list countries.

Sunway and Cassidy Travel are both advertising four-star weeks in Malta from €499pp this August, for example, while Project Travel, a Norway specialist, has re-opened following Norway's inclusion on the list.

"At Sunway, we understand and respect some people’s concern about overseas travel," the company told Independent.ie.

"However, we are fully in line with Government guidelines - we are offering great value to green-list destinations to enable people who want to travel, to do so. There is a pent-up demand for travel and we are facilitating that."

A spokesperson for Cassidy Travel said: "The lack of clarity surrounding foreign travel continues to be unsettling for holidaymakers and the industry alike. However, it is the convention in our business to rely on the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) as the ultimate arbitrar in such matters - while drawing our customers' attention to the risks involved in what is a fluid situation."

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