Media Release, Sunday 26 July 2020
More than 50 chauffeur drivers will complete a 400km drive from Killarney to Donegal today to highlight their concerns over the loss of business as a result of Covid-19.
The ‘Drive to Survive’, organised by the Western Chauffeur Drive Association (WCDAI) left Killarney on Friday in convoy for the three- day road trip along the west coast stopping at visitor and heritage sites along the Wild Atlantic Way including Bunratty, the Cliffs of Moher, Galway, Salthill, Maams Cross, Leenane, Ballina, Sligo and finishing in Donegal.
The drivers say the Drive2Surive is an act of solidarity with all viable tourism businesses that would be otherwise open and trading at this time of year.
The organisation is calling on the Government to commit to key issues to support the sector affected badly by the Covid 19 pandemic;
• Assistance in securing a moratorium (or Government support in addressing) on business debt to ensure their survival. The six-month deferral was welcome, but given that the sector is unlikely to see any recovery until next year at least, drivers are calling for more support in this area to ensure they can re-open for the 2021 tourism season.
• Drivers want more meetings and open lines of communication with the Tourism Recovery Taskforce to put forward proposals which would aid in the recovery of the transport and tourism industries.
• WCDAI’s cost neutral proposal of revaluating the value of a Limo licence giving businesses an asset to carry forward as their fleets are depreciating in current climate.
• Sector specific restart grants for chauffeur drive businesses to help pay for insurance policies and COVID-19 cleaning materials when operators have had no business income for over a year.
• Open dialogue with the National Transport Authority going forward on all SPSV matters which are of concern to drivers and detrimental to the successful operation of the chauffeur drive sector within Tourism and Transport industries.
• Government need to address the unfair rebate of insurance premiums for SPSV Limo licence operators in comparison to coach and bus operators.
• Additional Income tax credit for operators before the 2019 self-assessment deadline and rebates for those who have filed preliminary tax for 2020.
WCDAI Chairman Paul Thompson said the sector had been linking Irish tourism for the past 70 years and this weekend’s Drive2Survive follows on from an event earlier this month when the Association gathered at Shannon Airport to call for Government support for their industry.
Our sector needs urgent supports or else 300 jobs could be permanently lost,” he said. “We are on our knees here with no end in sight. We are asking the government to open dialogue with us so that we can put forward cost-neutral proposals that could save our businesses. We look after the high-end tourism and corporate sector and we feel we need immediate dialogue to ensure that we survive this pandemic. All we ask is that we are brought to the table to have constructive discussions with the relevant departments.”
WCDAI secretary Fergal Jordan added:
“Our sector supports hundreds of jobs but we haven’t been able to work since March. We want to highlight how we act as a conduit to all the small tourism businesses in rural Ireland. We bring visitors from Irish airports to all the towns and villages in rural Ireland where SMEs like ours are now hurting and concerned for their futures.
We met in Killarney, Co Kerry the tourism capital of Ireland not to protest, but to show the Government and decision makers that we need our voices to be heard, to be listened to and to be supported.”
About the Western Chauffeur Drive Association:
The Western Chauffeur Drive Association is a network of chauffeur driver companies located all around Ireland, but its membership base is largely in the western region. It currently has over 40 members, but that continues to grow.
For further information: please contact Fergal Jordan 086-0226939
© 2019 Western Chauffeur Drive Association Ireland