The Coach Tourism and Transport Council (CTTC) in Ireland has called for the city of Galway to improve its offering for coaches or risk losing group tourism business.
CTTC Chairman Joe Donoghue, who runs Donoghue Coaches in Claregalway, told the Connacht Tribune that his organisation has been inundated with complaints from members around the country. Among the gripes are a shortage of parking facilities, set-down and pick-up areas, as well as a lack of toilet facilities in the city and loss of time due to the unpredictability of traffic delays.
The situation is so bad that tour operators and coach companies are avoiding Galway. He said: “The vast majority of tour itineraries include Galway city for a one to two night stay, or a lunch stop and free time. Due to the lack of set-down and pick-up areas, and the traffic congestion going in and out of Galway at peak times and the resultant time constraints on tour itineraries, tour guides and drivers are avoiding Galway.”
Specific areas of concern raised by CTTC members include Galway Cathedral being too far away from the ‘action’ for a set-down area; coaches dropping off at Eyre Square have been photographed and issued tickets in the post; the new set-down facilities at Merchant’s Road are clogged up by illegal parking; and a lack of toilet facilities.
Joe has called on the local authority to address the problems by enforcing the parking rules at Merchant’s Road and making it for coach parking only; use the pedestrianised area in front of the Skeff in Eyre Square as a set-down and pick-up area for coaches; and use a vacant site at the docks for coach parking. He has also suggested changes to the city’s traffic system to improve flows for buses and coaches.
Joe said CTTC has linked up with Sligo Chamber of Commerce and Sligo’s local authority to offer coach-friendly initiatives that keep the tour coaches coming back.
“Galway should not be left behind and lose all this potential business with a minimum of 50 to 60 coaches passing through Galway daily, especially now as we head towards Galway 2020. As a Galway businessman myself, and chairman of CTTC I would love to see Galway back on the map as a city open for coach tourism business,” he added.