ONE OF Ireland's oldest and most famous tour companies has closed down for good due to the impact the Covid-19 pandemic has had on the industry.
Joe Walsh Pilgrimtours Ltd-- best known by one of their many brand names, Joe Walsh Tours, has closed permanently after 60 years in business.
The newswas announced by the Commission for Aviation Regulation (CAR) in a statement released yesterday, seen by RTÉ News.
In the statement, the CAR revealed that Joe Walsh Tours was unable to fulfil its obligations to customers and has therefore ceased trading permanently.
The Commission went on to assure customers of Joe Walsh Tours that they may be protected by the consumer protection scheme or refund scheme "if your holiday has been cancelled due to Covid-19 and you have yet to receive a refund from Joe Walsh Pilgrimtours".
The company had employed over 100 people across the UK, Europe and the US, but the industry has been devastated by the Covid-19 pandemic and associated restrictions, and Joe Walsh Tours had slashed staff members down to around 25 in recent months, RTÉ News reports.
Joe Walsh Tours have also confirmed the sad news, stating they had not been trading since the Covid-19 pandemic first hit the globe, and was operating only to help customers with refunds and bookings.
They did "everything they could" to survive the pandemic, but Ireland's strict travel rules are "putting Irish travel companies at a disadvantage to their European counterparts", a statement from the company argues.
The company had hoped to pull through with help from insurance, but they had failed to reach an agreement with their insurance company and were left with no choice but to close down permanently.
They went on to thank all of their customers from the past 60 years, and acknowledged "the incredible effort that our staff have made, and for their loyalty and support, particularly during the last year."
Joe Walsh Tours began in 1961 when Joe Walsh, a County Down native, foresaw the potential for the travel industry in Ireland.
Now managed by his two sons, Joe Walsh Pilgrimtours became one of the best-known travel companies in Ireland, organising everything from overseas weddings to religious pilgrimages and all-inclusive trips to international sports fixtures.