Ask any mechanic what is the most nervous phase of the process of rebuilding an engine, they will likely to say that it is when you turn the key to re-start it. I think it will be the same for the tourism industry. A statement from the Coach Tourism & Transport Council (CTTC) would suggest that some of our agencies are not as aware of that danger.
Picture this scenario, you have just received a phone call from a touring group, who wish to take up their plans from last year and continue with their planned tour of Ireland this year. You start to plan or help plan the itinerary for the group, only to find that you cannot book the tourist attractions to visit. The reason is that they are not accepting group bookings. The OPW (Office of Public Works) is the major offender here, although there is evidence of some latitude and easing of these regulations. There is also evidence according to the CTTC of group travel being cancelled because passengers could not visit some of the sites.
As the vaccination roll out continues, the economy must continue to open up. It is likely that privately owned and run facilities will open up as soon as the health advice allows them to, but if some of the state owned and controlled sites start to interpret the regulations locally and make parochial rules for running their premises, that must be stamped out. Starting up needs everybody to put their shoulder to the wheel. Sectors of the economy are just barely hanging on, none more so than those involved within the Bus & Coach industry.
Covid arrived unexpectedly and fast. We have the cure and the vaccines, so there is no reason to wind down the regulations in a tedious and slow way. We have seen the rise of the status of some health officials in the media. In a big company they would be regarded as “department heads” and run by the Board through the CEO. It is time for the Taoiseach and his cabinet to start doing just that, running and recovering the country. Allowing a series of government controlled entities and agencies to dictate the speed of re-opening the economy is harmful and short-sighted. If this type of control is left to local agencies and government bodies we could see it take years to get thing back to normal. By the end of the summer I hope what has transpired with the OPW is not a wholesale problem.