The Coach Tourism & Transport Council (CTTC) made a number of proposals to the Oireachtas Tourism Committee; to include increased marketing investment, enhanced regional infrastructure, and the need for parity of treatment on equivalent VAT rates.
The country’s leading representative body for commercial bus operators, the Coach Tourism & Transport Council of Ireland (CTTC) issued a number of recommendations to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Tourism, Culture, Arts, Sports and Media at a meeting held in Leinster House, this week. The CTTC delegation led by Chairperson William Martin, included executive members James McGinley from Donegal and Philip O’Callaghan from Kerry. The group cited the need to prioritise sustained investment in rural tourism to help bolster consumer confidence in group transport and provide a much-needed boost to regional economies.
The recommendations – which were proposed by the CTTC as part of submission to the Committee’s Chairperson, Deputy Niamh Smyth late last year – focused on a number of key issues for the sector.
- The need to direct marketing funding for coach tourism towards key markets such as Central Europe and the United States. The CTTC has long called for increased funding for this purpose, and welcomed increased investment in this area in recent years by government.
- Greater engagement between transport stakeholders and local authorities, to better understand the requirements of touring coaches who generally require dedicated parking facilities, as well as adequate and fully accessible service stations for passengers. The representative body highlighted the example of France, where the vast majority of service areas are equipped with adequate refueling facilities, allowing for the delivery of a best-in-class service.
- A cruise tourism policy for Ireland whereby the government, in partnership with all tourism stakeholders, develop a strategy to maximise the tourist potential for cruise tourism in Ireland and in particular in Dublin.
- Rectification of the existing disparity of taxation treatment between operations in Northern Ireland and the Republic. Currently, while operators in Northern Ireland benefit from a zero percent VAT rate – allowing them to reclaim all their operational and other inputs – coach tour operators in the Republic are unable to claim back VAT on similar expenditure. This has led to increasing number of coaches from Northern Ireland being used for the provision of coach tours in the Republic. While acknowledging that Ireland must have strict compliance with the EU VAT Directive, the representative body notes the potential for negotiation on this issue.
Speaking following the meeting, Chairperson of the CTTC, Willie Martin said: “The private bus and coach sector plays a pivotal role in tourism development in Ireland. With the industry directly responsible for attracting two million international visitors to Ireland each year, our activities help to sustain regional and rural economies throughout every corner of the country. Our tourism product is one that our members take enormous satisfaction in delivering, and so we are keen to ensure that every available resource is deployed to aid the continued development of rural tourism.
The CTTC believes that consistent, strategic investment in marketing Ireland abroad, enhanced and fully accessible service facilities along major tourist routes, and a commitment to rectifying the present disparity in VAT rates between operators in the North and South will go a long way to creating a country-wide tourism offering that we can all take pride in”.