No Travel Respite In Covid Resilience Plan

15 Sep 2020 | 04.24 pm

No Travel Respite In Covid Resilience Plan

'NPHET locking down Ireland like North Korea'

15 Sep 2020 | 04.24 pm

The Irish Travel Agents Association has expressed disappointment in relation to the government’s six month Resilience and Recovery plan, stating that nothing has changed regarding the current situation for the Irish travel sector.

The ITAA believes that there has been a lack of clarity on both inbound and outbound tourism, and that direction is needed before the Irish travel industry can resume operations.

The government has signalled that it will be another month before there are further updates to the Green List of countries deemed safe for travel.

CEO Pat Dawson stated: “We were disappointed to hear that there will be no further updates on the travel industry until October 13, a whole month away from now. We believe that the government are simply postponing outcomes, and putting the Irish travel industry on the long finger, which will lead to another month filled with stress and uncertainty for our member travel agents.

“We are calling on the government to provide support for our members such as grants and wage subsidies, so that we can continue to protect our customers, our employees and our businesses.

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Ryanair branded today’s Covid travel announcement as more delay and indecision from Micheál Martin’s government and NPHET.

A spokesman commented: “We need Ireland’s Green List updated today to include all lower Covid case EU countries including Germany (22), Sweden (22) and Poland (18). Irish aviation and tourism cannot delay another week or month (to October 13) while Micheál Martin dithers and delays or while NPHET mismanages Ireland’s test and tracing system.

“Irish aviation and jobs are being sacrificed to cover up NPHET’s failure to keep our Covid rate as low as Germany and Italy, both of whom have allowed intra EU air travel since 1 July while NPHET has kept Ireland locked up like North Korea.”

Decimated Livelihoods

The Coach Tourism and Transport Council of Ireland (CTTC) has called for immediate government intervention ahead of Budget 2021 to save the industry from complete devastation as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, associated restrictions and national policy determining that people should avoid public transport.

The CTTC has said that since the beginning of March, coach operators in the tourism industry have ground to a complete halt and members’ livelihoods have been decimated.

The Council is asking for direct government invention in the form of a financial subsidy amounting to €42m for coach tour operators to help deal with the dramatic stoppage to their operations. The Council wants a zero VAT rate or an equivalent arrangement for coach and bus operators to allow the industry compete on an equal footing with Northern Ireland counterparts.

CTTC is the representative body for Ireland’s coach touring companies, and Ireland’s private bus operators. The sector employs 11,500 full time staff, many seasonal staff, and pre-Covid had annual turnover of over €600m. The sector operates 90% of school transport services, most Irish commercial bus services and plays a huge role in tourism provision.

Chairman John Halpenny commented: “It is clear the business environment for bus and coach operators will be extremely challenging over the next 18 months. Government policy on aviation, one of the most conservative in Europe, is directly responsible for leaving coach tourism operators particularly vulnerable with quarantining requirements severely limiting international travel.

“The impact on the finances of operators has been disastrous. The timing of Covid-19 means many have no reserves left to enable us to survive the crisis until revenue starts to flow again in the 2021 tourist season. Even at that, the numbers will be nowhere near where they were in 2019.

“It will be at least 2025 before we see normality resuming. While some funding was earmarked for coach tour operators in the recent Stimulus Plan this was simply inadequate for what is required by our members.”

Ronan Flood, chairman of the Association of Irish Professional Conference Organisers, said the body looks forward to the speedy release of guidance specific to conference and event centres that fall under the government’s ‘very large purpose built event facilities’.

“However we have serious concerns around the 100 person restrictions on other indoor events, which are the lifeblood for our members who professionally manage them safely and successfully,” Flood added.

“Why are these business events – which as a matter of course keep a record of who attends, how and where they are seated – limited to 100 people when thousands of people pass through retail environments across the country every day of the week?

“We are eager to comply with any and all restrictions around seating, one-way traffic and mask-wearing, but our fear is that this 100-person limit would render our events non-viable.”

Pix: RollingNews.ie
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