Home » Breaking News » Clare bus operator not banking on travel bounce
PJ Keogh, Paul Walsh and Emelyn Heaps, outside the Castle Antiques and Craft Centre which is being developed at the old Coach House building and across the road at the existing Antique loft at Barrack Street, Clarecastle. Photograph by John Kelly.

Clare bus operator not banking on travel bounce

WHILE international travel is set to kick off again on July 19, local bus operator PJ Keogh says he doesn’t feel there will be any great influx of visitors, with the wider world also reeling from the pandemic’s impact.
From the 19th of the month, the current plan is that Ireland will begin to operate the EU Digital Covid Certificate for travel originating within the EU and the European Economic Area (which includes the UK).
A DCC will show if a passenger has been vaccinated against Covid-19, has recovered from Covid-19 in the past nine months or has had a negative test result taken no more than 72 hours prior to arrival here.
Those passengers with a DCC will then not have to undergo quarantine.
Speaking on Wednesday, PJ Keogh, who runs PK Travel in Shannon, said that while the easing of restrictions on international travel is helpful, he doesn’t expect to see very many tourists this year.
“Everything helps, do you know what I mean, but international tourism, I’d say most of it can be written off this year. There’ll be no real influx of tourists this year, that’s what we’re thinking. I deal with the likes of White’s Hotels there in Lisdoonvarna, Marcus White, and he has nothing in the pipeline for this year. His commencement date will be in March of 2022. We’ve already been in contact with him.”
He said that even before Covid, very many of the visitors coming to stay in Clare and surrounding counties were arriving into Dublin rather than Shannon, as the Clare airport struggled.
“That’s been happening long, long before this,” he said.
While there may be some relief when the 19th does roll around, he says the bounce won’t be immediate by any means. “Everything does help, but I’d say it’ll be desperately limited in terms of the amount of people that will be arriving. That’s my own personal belief, there’s no bookings.”
A business like his own, which frequently transports tourists to attractions, had some bad news this week, which largely went under the radar.
“Did you see what the OPW have done? If we had a group of people tomorrow morning and we use places like Bunratty Castle, King John’s Castle or Muckross House, but they won’t take group bookings, they’ll only allow six people at a time to head into any of these operations. We’re only allowed 25 people on a 50 seater coach, that’s the way it has been, but if we pulled up at one of these OPW sites, they’d say sorry, you can’t come in here with 25 people, we can only take six at a time. Could you imagine how long that would take?”
He says that businesses like his own have really been floundering since the arrival of the pandemic and not everyone can access the various State supports that have been introduced.
“Private operators, who don’t have contracts with people, you won’t get State support. The likes of the green buses and those who have contracts with TII or CIE or some of the school transport, they’d be able to get the Government subsidy, but the ordinary guy who is a private operator and doesn’t have a contract, he gets nothing, has to fight his own corner.”

About Owen Ryan

Owen Ryan has been a journalist with the Clare Champion since 2007, having previously worked for a number of other regional titles in Limerick, Galway and Cork.