A new report by economist Jim Power, commissioned by the Coach Tourism and Transport Council of Ireland (CTTC), the leading representative body for bus and coach operators lays out the deep economic damage suffered by the sector during the Covid-19 pandemic and the acute need for further State support.
The economic analysis shows that coach tour businesses, responsible for attracting two million international visitors ever year, are facing serious challenges without targeted financial aid and support from Government. Many operators fear they will not survive, and there will not be sufficient capacity to support Ireland’s tourism offering.
These operators play a fundamental economic and social role in Ireland. Through the provision of their services, coach tour operators contribute €400 million to the Irish economy annually while supporting hundreds of thousands of jobs in retail, hospitality, and visitor experience the length and breadth of the country.
The report shows that prior to Covid-19, the private bus and coach business was a low margin activity in most cases. The shock from Covid-19 has threatened to push many operators out of business. While last year coach tour operators could help cover some parts of their costs with resources from the 2019 tourist season, in 2021 businesses in the sector no longer have such reserves.
The reality is that if a significant number of private operators are forced out of business, this will have a knock on impact across other service areas to include; scheduled services, school transport and private hire.
The report findings are stark and convey that in 2021;
- 70 per cent of coach tour operators believe the outlook is bleak
- 90 per cent of coach tour operators believe that without Government support, they will have to reduce supply or close part of their business
Report’s recommendations include
- A renewal of the Coach Tourism Business Continuity Scheme in Budget 2022. This will be integral to ensuring continuity and standard of service for overseas visitors.
- An increase in the fuel rebate offered to coach operators. Chairperson of the CTTC, John Halpenny said: “The CTTC’s Economic Report demonstrates that we are now faced with a situation that the survival of many coach tour businesses are under serious threat. With access to Ireland severely restricted for international tourists, and confusion around what travel will look like from here, many operators in our sector badly need life-support.