A WEST Cork-based chauffeur has said his business has seen a ‘100% collapse in turnover’ due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Ronan Ganter, originally from Dublin but now living in Timoleague with his family, is treasurer of the Western Chauffeur Drive Association Ireland (WCDAI) and he runs Gan Tours, which offers a chauffeuring service to tourists.
Ronan told The Southern Star that he would normally be doing a lot of day tours and extended tours with the majority of his customers being American tourists.
‘But the chauffeur business has been completely decimated due to Covid-19. All of us are reliant on the airports and tourists coming in so that has just dried up completely,’ said Ronan.
‘The whole chauffeur driver industry really, whether corporate or tourism, is non-existent at the moment.
‘As a grouping we are regulated by the National Transport Authority and our regulations are pretty much in line with taxis. We’re a tiny percentage of this industry and as a result not many people would know about us.’
Ronan said that he and his colleagues need passengers coming in from abroad as they are their clients.
‘It’s an interesting job, and you get to meet great characters and you tend to be their concierge when they’re here as you’re booking the restaurants for them and you befriend them. You’d miss being on the road too.
‘We’re nearly facing into three winters now, having gone through one, and this summer is like another winter and then we’ll be coming into another winter.’
The WCDAI have in recent weeks been making the public aware of their niche industry and the vital role they play in linking a lot of the tourism services together.
‘We’re just trying to highlight that we are a service that exists and get the public to understand what we do. Even with the recovery happening now we still won’t have clients as tourists are not coming in,’ added Ronan.
Ronan and some of his colleagues from Cork and Kerry recently completed a Drive2Survive over three days to highlight concerns over the loss of business.
They drove from Killarney up to Donegal stopping at visitor and heritage sites along the Wild Atlantic Way.
The Drive2Survive was an act of solidarity with all viable tourism businesses that would be otherwise open and trading at this time of year.
WCDAI is asking the government to open up dialogue so that they can put forward cost-neutral proposals that are designed to save their businesses.