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Adventure awaits!

Tour company busy planning for reopening

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William Britton of Northwest Adventure Tours.

William Britton of Northwest Adventure Tours.

William Britton of Northwest Adventure Tours.

For Northwest Adventure Tours, 2020 was set to be its busiest year yet. Its owner William Britton was looking forward to a summer of showing off Sligo's unrivalled adventure tourism offerings.

The summer was already booking up nicely, but, on March 12th that all changed.

"The 12th of March when the schools closed was the first main hit of cancellations. We were in the middle of programs with pre schools, primary and secondary schools, after school clubs and third level colleges," Britton explains.

"Bookings went from no days off for the foreseeable future to zero," he adds.

From corporate groups to custom adventure holidays, overnight Northwest Adventure Tours immediately felt the impact of Covid-19.

"Over the coming days everything else followed suit.

"All our domestic and international tours, hens and stags, youth groups, corporate groups, kids camps, challenge events all cancelled."

Though managing to postpone some tours to later in the summer, how the phased reopening of the country will dictate to a certain extent what will go ahead.

Now, Britton is concentrating on ensuring when the business can open, it will do so adhering to all social distancing guidelines for the safety of his clients.

"Group sizes, social distancing, lockdown areas, procedures for doing everything safely, accommodation, buses, every activity and event is being looked at for solutions."

On the back of a busy winter, Britton was looking forward to heading into his busiest year yet.

"We were super excited knowing that come the end of the summer we would be in a great position to grow the business.

"The bookings were there we just needed to enjoy the work.

"It has taken a long time to get to this point for us, eight years to be precise."

Chairperson of Adventure Sligo, Mr Britton acknowledged the dedication of networks who worked so hard to put Sligo on the map.

"It's also taken Sligo a long time to get to this level of tourism.

"Last year, Adventure Sligo and Sligo Tourism did amazing work in promoting the county. Now everyone wants to come and visit but can't."

Though keen to get up and running again, Northwest Adventure Tours is taking no chances and says the safety of its customers is paramount.

"Customers have been in touch and are just as eager to get back into nature as are we.

"For us and the other providers it's going to be difficult, but we know we can adapt.

"We are working hard behind the scenes to make this happen.

"We are also waiting for clearer guidelines from our governing bodies,"says Mr Britton.

Mr Britton says being part of Adventure Sligo has been invaluable during these times, with all providers sharing information on how to operate post lockdown.

"We are all in the same boat and I cant recommend getting out with any of them enough when they are back up and running."

One thing is for certain, when restrictions are lifted, adventure awaits.

Meanwhile, the Irish Tourism Industry Confederation has called for the appointment of a dedicated minister for tourism with "significant economic clout" to lead the sector's revival following Covid-19, as well as a 5 per cent VAT rate for the duration of the next government.

Along with this, it is seeking that households receive 'staycation vouchers' of "a significant monetary value" to boost the sector.

Sligo Champion