Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Transport, Tourism, and Sport Marc Mac Sharry TD has called on the Minister for Education to clarify if any instruction has been given to Education and Training Boards with regard to school trips and events for the 20/21 academic year.

Deputy Mac Sharry was making the comments as stakeholders in the tourism industry have contacted him following the cancellation of previously booked excursions in the year ahead allegedly following a directive from ETBs. 

Deputy Mac Sharry said, “Minister McHugh needs to clarify what directive, if any, has been issued to ETBs and all schools across the country. It appears many previously booked school excursions are now being cancelled as a directive has been issued for the 20/21 academic year.

“While we are not out of the woods in terms of dealing with COVID-19 the 20/21 academic year runs until May 2021. We could be in an entirely different situation regarding the coronavirus over the coming weeks and months. 

“Like all matters relevant to the hospitality and tourism sector during the covid crisis this decision has been arrived at without any consultation with the tourism sector and relevant service providers. These school tours and student excursions are an important part of our children’s education and development while also an important part of our economy. A directive to end them for the next 12 months is unnecessarily draconian by any objective analysis. 

“It also begs the question what are the government going to provide by way of support to the affected companies and all tourism service providers in the months ahead. Are the ETBs taking a unilateral and unnecessary approach when a cohesive joined up approach could be taken to meet safety requirements while also supporting our economy.

“Minister McHugh needs to clarify the status of this directive immediately and re-examine the entire matter with all stakeholders to avoid the complete obliteration of the adventure tourism and wider hospitality sector” concluded Deputy Mac Sharry.