The private and coach tourism industry which has been forced into effective lockdown mode since 12 March last as a result of Covid-19 restrictions is completely dismayed at Government refusal to provide ‘hibernation’ funding to keep them afloat and avoid unnecessary permanent closures and job losses.
That is according to the Coach Tourism & Transport Council of Ireland (CTTC), the representative body for the sector which employs 11,500 full time staff, many seasonal, and has a yearly turnover of over €600 million.
John Halpenny, CTTC Chairman, stated that the recently announced Covid Restrictions Support Scheme (CRSS) “Is not fit for purpose due to the omission of the sector from its terms and conditions. The CRSS is aimed at businesses which have either been prohibited from operating or only been able to trade at significantly reduced levels because of restrictions imposed in response to Covid-19. The scheme will apply to business premises where the Government restrictions directly prohibit or restrict access by customers. However, incredibly, CTTC members who have been under restriction since March 12th last with Government making it clear several times that the public must avoid public transports, are ineligible to apply.”
“I cannot think of any other industry where customers are being actively told not to use a business by Government and yet, at the same time, the same Government is refusing to support us financially to help get us through this ‘hibernation’ period. Across Europe, EU Governments are providing hibernation funding for industries that have been forced to close due to Covid-19 restrictions and social distancing requirements. It simply beggar’s belief as to how we are being ignored,” he added.
“It is vitally important that immediate efforts are made to preserve our members’ relationships with key stakeholders, like overseas tour operators, workers, and creditors. Unquestionably, this must be done through a ‘hibernation fund’ where the CRSS falls short but Government have been completely silent regarding our plight. Having access to a ‘hibernation fund’ would allow our members to remain viable until the crisis subsides which will happen at some point in the not too distant future.”
“We are asking Government to immediately table its own amendment to the Finance Act and to provide a hibernation fund for coach touring companies, and private bus operators. Our members rely heavily on established relationships with our customers which could be lost if focused help is not given now,” John concluded.