Representatives from the Coach Tourism & Transport Council (CTTC) will brief Oireachtas members as the industry struggles to recuperate losses following months of inactivity.
Representatives will appear before the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Tourism, Culture, Arts, Sports & Media today (22nd of September), to outline the detrimental impact of Covid-19 on the industry, and highlight the significant financial repercussions encountered by coach operators, as a result of the effective collapse of international tourism markets over the past eighteen months.
The appearance follows an invitation from the Chair of the Committee, Niamh Smyth TD (FF). Attending on behalf of the CTTC will be representatives of the Executive Council of the CTTC – Feargal Barton, Barton Transport; Mike Buckley, Kerry Coaches and James McGinley, John McGinley Coach Travel.
The Oireachtas briefing comes on the back of a recent survey conducted by the CTTC, the results of which offered a stark assertion of the financial challenges facing the industry. Responding to questions on the impact of the collapse of international and domestic tourism markets, 84% of coach tour operators remarked that they do not expect to financially recover in the next year – with 100% of survey participants noting a substantial decline in bookings from overseas visitors for 2022, compared to the same period in 2019.
Ensuring the financial survival of the industry is crucial, as coach tourism is widely viewed as an integral component of the Irish tourism product. The transportation infrastructure provided by private operators acts as a key anchor for the tourism industry, and the sector makes a strong contribution to rural economies, by directly supporting thousands of jobs in hospitality, retail, and visitor experience. During the Oireachtas briefing, coach tour operators will also seek to highlight the strategic importance of the industry, given its central role in attracting millions of international tourists to Ireland each year – with many operators personally footing the extensive marketing costs associated with this.
While the funding package allocated to the sector in the July Stimulus Plan in 2020, provided a critical lifeline to many operators, the monetary shock triggered by the effective collapse of the industry overnight, meant that this support was not sufficient and ultimately, did not go far enough in stemming the flow of financial losses. This is demonstrated by the fact that the average funding received by operators under the scheme, would not even cover the cost of three monthly repayments for a single coach.
The CTTC will therefore brief members of the Oireachtas Committee, on the importance of ensuring a full renewal of the Coach Tourism Business Continuity Scheme in Budget 2022, with increased funding ring-fenced for coach tourism specifically. To offset the significant financial damage sustained by the sector over the last eighteen months, the representative body will also urge Committee members’ to request that the Government introduce a supplementary budget in the Finance Act. The CTTC is warning that a failure to introduce these measures, could seriously impede the recovery of Irish tourism, and risk jeopardising the consistency and quality of service that international tourists have become accustomed to.