Irish coach tourism at a loss

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Fáilte Ireland has released a report into the coach tourism industry which shows the entire sector is running at a loss. The Irish tourist development body’s data suggests the average daily hire-out rates are not sufficient to cover operating costs.

The report, entitled, Coach Tourism: A Sectoral Study, used a confidential questionnaire sent to 66 coach tour operators listed on the Discover Ireland website. An accountant conducted follow-up case studies of a smaller number of coach operators in which the finances of those companies were examined.

The report shows that since 2006 the number of coach touring visitors is down 16%, hire-out rates are down 5% and the price of diesel has risen 108%, in part because of the removal of the excise rebate.

Gerry Mullins, CEO of the Coach Tourism & Transport Council said: “It confirms what we have said for some time; coach tourism is going through a particularly difficult time, and that the ever-increasing tax burden placed on coach tourism companies is unjust.

“Fuel is our biggest input, and the cost of diesel has shot up in recent years because of government policy. We can’t be expected to pay more and more in fuel tax while our rates and the number of tourists in the country are down.

“Last year the government cut VAT for hotels and restaurants, but has increased VAT for coach companies. It’s blatantly unfair, and not healthy for the tourism industry. Our visitors deserve the most modern and comfortable coaches when touring Ireland, but because of high fuel taxes, coach companies cannot replace their vehicles, and the national fleet is ageing rapidly.”