Does the Government understand the crisis Irish Bus & Coach Operators face?

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While the Vaccine jab may cure the nation’s health, it will take a bigger shot in the arm and a lot of “step down” care to get the health of the economy back to fitness. 

As the country dodders over when we should open our hospitality sector, such as how many can go to weddings, experts are starting to get into conflict about what is the best and safest way forward. While it is important to take advise from experts, we need people that can think strategically and make what may be tough decisions to make sure the economy does recover and not face any more uncertainty. We are a country of risk takers, sometimes we don’t realise the importance of this until we trade outside the country. Ireland has become one of the strongest and best known countries in the aviation sector. Some of the CEOs of the world’s largest airlines are Irish, many senior managers in these companies are also Emerald Isle natives. Almost half of the world’s jet fleet are registered here.

Our tourism sector punches well above its weight, some of our largest companies, the likes of CRH, and the Kerry Group trade comfortably and confidently in the world market place. We are the envy of many economies that may be perceived as being more progressive than we are, yet our performance  continues to exceed them. So what’s the problem? It is simple, staying at this level is tough and requires business sharpness and acumen. There a danger that one of the by-products of the pandemic could put this success in jeopardy. If we allow our civil service to plan and steer us forward, we could find ourselves in choppy waters, not because of their incompetence, rather their inexperience in business.

The speed we open the economy will be critical. At some stage a Government may have to make a call on the public health advice it is receiving. From the very start of the pandemic we relied on and for the most part took any advice we were given. Very few questioned the science behind the advice given, the media for its part largely took everything at face value, generally reprinting and re-broadcasting it with full endorsement. Fears were expressed that our health system could become overwhelmed. While it certainly was put to the pin of its collar on occasions, it seemed to survive. While nobody would question the level of commitment on the part of front-line workers, there is nothing dis-respectful in people now asking questions.

Economist Jim Power’s report for the Coach Tourism & Transport Council (CTTC) echoes these fears on behalf of Bus & Coach operators. The future is uncertain. For sure the Government and its agencies have given substantial support, but this is finite and what happens when it runs out? Removing State aid will be a tricky act when it is eventually decided that the pandemic crisis is over there will be a gap between that time and when normal commercial activity resumes. Here is the dilemma for everybody. Some of the older people in the business will remember the situation often facing a driver on a frosty morning, like, is there enough life in the battery to last until the engine starts? Small and medium business face the same dilemma, can they last long enough to get going. Government and its agencies must balance this carefully against public health

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