Dail Eireann TDs and Senators will next week (Tuesday 6th of October at 12.00pm) hear from members of the Coach Tourism & Transport Council of Ireland (CTTC) who will tell Oireachtas members that the coach tourism industry has effectively been wiped out by the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent lockdown and restrictions imposed, quarantining rules and aviation policy since last March.
With further restrictions being imposed on a rolling basis and the general Government advice to avoid public transport where possible, the CTTC is looking to Finance Minister, Paschal Donohoe to throw the sector a lifeline in order to save thousands of jobs and businesses that are on the line. The group, which represents coach touring companies, and private bus operators, many of which are family run, believes that without Government backing in October’s Budget, many operators will simply go out of business permanently which would be an extremely regressive step in Ireland’s transport ambitions.
The CTTC is asking for direct Government invention in the form of a financial subsidy amounting to €42.5m. The CTTC is also asking for Government to ensure:
- Restoration of the fuel rebate scheme to cover excise duty and carbon taxes. The CTTC’s members have no objection to increased carbon taxes once a rebate is received on same.
- Enhanced capital allowances for vehicles in order to reflect their current market value as a result of the market collapse. This measure will be cost-neutral for the Exchequer in the long term.
- Introduction of 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. With Brexit looming, this will exacerbate present inequalities whereby operators will continue to be placed at a major competitive disadvantage to their counterparts in Northern Ireland.
Commenting on the forthcoming meeting Chair of the CTTC, John Halpenny said: “As the leading body for private bus and coach operators we embarked in a fulsome lobbying campaign of Government since the emergence of the coronavirus pandemic. Our efforts have delivered supports for scheduled services, school transport and coach tourism. However, an enhancement of the coach tourism supports in the July Stimulus plan and a recognition of the increased expenditure falling to the sector as a result of the enhanced cleaning and sanitisation regime demanded is urgently required.”
“With the viability of many state run bus services now impacted, the private bus and coach sector has a more elevated role to play in national transport provision into the future. This is particularly the case given the programme for government specifies the need for sustainable transport solutions and our membership is keen to play its part. We are delighted with the opportunity to host a virtual Budget briefing with TDs and Senators on all sides of the House. Our message will be clear that thousands of businesses and jobs are at stake and we need decisive action without delay.”