Without international travel, further Government supports are required for the industry to survive and recover
The Coach Tourism & Transport Council of Ireland (CTTC), the representative body for Ireland’s coach touring companies, and Ireland’s private bus operators, has stated that further Government supports are needed if the coach tour industry is to survive and recover beyond 2021.
The CTTC conducted a survey of its membership recently to ascertain the impact of successive lockdowns, Government policy, transport and aviation measures and quarantining requirements are having on the coach tourism, chauffeur drive and private hire. The main findings of the survey include:
90% of businesses said they will be forced to reduce or close their business as a result of the lack of Government support. Of this figure 94% were coach tourism operators.
84% of coach tour businesses revenues have declined by 95% or more
92% of private hire businesses revenues have declined by 95% or more
43% of coach tour operators have received no Government support
98% of private hire operators have received no Government support. 82% of businesses say their private hire business accounts for 50% of their turnover.
84% said that Government support so far was inadequate
In particular, private hire and chauffeur drive operators have yet to be receive any support for losses sustained over the Coronavirus pandemic. Both sectors are an integral part of Ireland’s tourism offering with private hire also supporting community groups, sports clubs and many organisation with their travel needs.
Pre-pandemic, Ireland’s tourism industry attracted 11 million tourists to Ireland annually. Coach tour operators are responsible for 2 million of these visitors who deploy extensive marketing campaigns, at their own cost, to target international visitors.
The bus and coach sector in Ireland is largely family owned, and it makes a significant contribution to the Irish economy, both at a national and regional level with over 1,721 coach operators in Ireland and 9,264 vehicles on the road. Private operators offer scheduled services, coach tourism, school transport, and private hire, provide over 75 million passenger journeys per year.
“While the CTTC is grateful for the support given to the industry to date, it is clear from the survey results that with 44 per cent of members receiving no Government support whatsoever, this needs to be urgently addressed. With fleets being grounded, the reality is the fixed costs continue to accrue and this poses real and present dangers to the viability of the sector,” explained John Halpenny, Chairman of the CTTC.
“The overall economic and social contribution of the coach tourism sector is very significant with retailers, hospitality outlets, and visitor centres the length and breadth of the country dependent on our business. The sector has been decimated since the middle of March last year, and its survival poses a potentially enormous problem for the country from a social, economic, and environmental perspective.”
“With the survey demonstrating the disappointment with Government support to-date, there is a very real danger that many private operators will not be around to fulfil vital roles in re-booting the tourism economy which will have widespread ramifications for businesses around Ireland. We look forward to playing our role in rebuilding the Irish economy and the CTTC is engaging and will continue to engage with Government to ensure that we can do that,” concluded John.