Incoming tour operators 'need grant aid' to stay in business

Having faced closure since March due to Covid-19, incoming tour operators have lost 98% of their 2020 business
Incoming tour operators 'need grant aid' to stay in business

Tour operators say they have lost 98% of their 2020 business. Picture: Eamon Ward

Tour operators who bring visitors to Ireland said they require substantial grant aid support in order to stay in business.

The Incoming Tour Operators Association (ITOA) said such support would ensure that Ireland does not lose the estimated €800m that international tourists bring to the economy each year.

The ITOA said that unlike the outgoing travel sector, its members bring overseas capital into Ireland, supporting 22,500 jobs across the industry. 

"These Irish based organisations promote and sell Ireland to the highest yielding of our international visitor categories – holidaymakers and business tourists," the association said.

"These are the visitors who stay the longest and explore the most regions – spreading economic benefit into local economies and across the island. Vital export earnings to the country.

ITOA President Rob Rankin called for the replacement of the 14-day quarantine for overseas visitors and a pan-European safe protocol to be included in the Governments Road-map to recovery and resilience. 

"Our members require certainty, and this can be achieved with a specific date in 2021 when a structured test and trace system for incoming international visitors will be in place. Such certainty will give assurance to visitors that they can retain or book a holiday to Ireland next Spring or Summer and that deferred business we have given commitment to can be secured," he said.

Europe’s largest airline Ryanair reiterated its call for the government to remove the Green List system and implement EU Commission’s coordinated plan for intra-EU air travel.

"After months of NPHET mismanagement of face masks, and travel restrictions, these EU Commission proposals are proportionate, sensible and reflect the successful policies followed by EU States like Germany and Italy, who allowed safe intra-EU air travel since 1 July, but have maintained significantly lower Covid case rates than NPHET has managed here in Ireland, despite restricting air travel like North Korea," a Ryanair spokesperson said.

Having faced closure since March due to Covid-19, incoming tour operators have lost 98% of their 2020 business.

The ITOA also called for the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme to be revised to levels of support provided by the Temporary Covid-19 Wage Subsidy Scheme. 

They said companies who have suffered the greatest impact, like their members, should be given greater support. They also want a graded approach for tourism business who have seen their business fall by a minimum of 60%.

"If the 31 ITOA member companies are not granted financial aid between now and when the travel ban is lifted, close to 1,000 jobs directly employed in ITOA companies and the 22,500 jobs supported in tourism will be lost," Mr Rankin said.

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