The Incoming Tour Operators Association (ITOA) has stated that its members require substantial grant aid support to stay in business. This support in addition to the introduction of safe structured test and trace travel protocol consistent with the ECDE and the EU traffic light system for incoming international visitors in 2021 will ensure that Ireland does not lose the estimated €800m that international tourists bring to the Irish economy annually.
Unlike the outgoing travel sector, ITOA 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. 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.
President of ITOA, Rob Rankin, commented: “ITOA understands that public health is and must be paramount. We’re calling 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”.
ITOA would also call for the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme to be revised to levels of support provided by the Temporary COVID-19 Wage Subsidy Scheme. Companies who have suffered the greatest impact, like ITOA members, due to the restrictions imposed by Government for the public good should be given greater support. In addition, a graded approach for tourism business who have seen their business fall by a minimum of 60% should be put in place.
Having faced closure since March due to Covid-19, Incoming Tour Operators have lost 98% of their 2020 business due to the government travel ban. Without urgent financial support, these companies cannot survive until next summer. ITOA is urging the Government to put in place a significant recovery strategy for the tourism industry as part of their re-opening plan.
Rankin concluded by saying: “If the 31 ITOA member companies are not granted financial aid between now and when the travel ban is lifted, close to 1000 jobs directly employed in ITOA companies and the 22,500 jobs supported in tourism will be lost. This business cannot be regained through OTA’s who sell destinations globally, primarily short stay and don’t contribute to the Irish exchequer. Business tourism connects FDI investment and research and development to the Irish economy and it’s an essential element in promoting Ireland for business on a global stage.”
ITOA members are a vital supply chain and distribution channel, providing in excess of 700,000 international holiday and business visitors to the island of Ireland annually. Ireland’s tourism industry depends on overseas tourism for 75% of its revenue, in excess of €7.5 billion annually. ITOA members will be at the forefront of restarting international tourism in the marketplace while also ensuring consumer confidence is maintained and boosted, during the fragile early stages of recovery in 2021.