Operators attribute loss in consumer confidence as a key reason why post-Covid-19 recovery is sluggish for the industry. A recent survey conducted by the Coach Tourism & Transport Council of Ireland (CTTC) has found that 84% of private operators do not expect to financially recover in the next year, following a period of near negligible activity over the last eighteen months.
As part of the same survey, CTTC members were asked if international coach tour bookings had increased or decreased for 2022, when compared to the same period in 2019. Every single respondent noted a substantial decline in bookings – a stark finding, which is likely to alarm operators and the thousands of retail, hospitality and visitor attraction businesses throughout the country.
The survey results offer a bleak insight, and convey that in 2021:
– 93% of coach tour operators say their business has been significantly impacted by travel restrictions on international visitors
– 93% of respondents believe that low levels of consumer confidence are damaging their business
– 100% of operators say that more needs to be done to improve confidence levels in public transport, post-pandemic
– 73% of Ireland’s leading operators will be forced to reduce their workforce in 2022, which could lead to considerable job losses
As part of its submission to the Government in advance of Budget 2022, the representative body has called for supplementary support to be made available to the industry this year in circumstances where the last funding stream available to operators was for 2020. The CTTC is also calling for a resumption of the Business Continuity Scheme for coach tourism on a contingency basis, for 2022.
Commenting on the report, John Halpenny, Chairperson of the Coach Tourism & Transport Council of Ireland (CTTC), said: “While the results of the survey will be of little surprise to many, they nonetheless offer a striking assertion of the bleak prospects facing the coach tourism industry at present. Having witnessed the complete decimation of their businesses over the past eighteen months, for many operators, the balance sheets are becoming increasingly unstable, with no certainty on the horizon.”
“For many industries, the partial resumption of international tourism marked the light at the end of the tunnel – but this is not the case for our operators. The average lead generation time for international tourist bookings is at least 12 months, if not longer. Realistically, we are facing a scenario whereby most coach tour operators will not be able to meaningfully resume their services until June 2022. Such a dramatic drop off in activity is likely to result in decreased connectivity to the rural tourism destinations in Ireland and significant job losses, situations that must adamantly be avoided.”
“Through several commitments in the Programme for Government, the coalition parties showed that they recognise the crucial role that private bus operators play in helping to leverage the full potential of the Irish tourism product. Taking into account these most recent findings, I would urge the Government to provide supplementary support for operators this year so they are best placed to take advantage of the 2022 season. Looking to next year, a resumption of the Business Continuity Scheme on a contingency basis would provide a safety net for many.”