Insurance costs are 'seriously harming' tourism in Mayo

Remarks come as Mayo Adventure Experience closes down

High insurance costs and difficulties obtaining cover for businesses operating in the tourism sector in Mayo are starting to seriously undermine our overall tourism offering, according election candidate Harry Barrett.

Mr Barrett made his comments yesterday following the announcement that Mayo Adventure Experience is to close today (June 30 ). The outdoor adventure facility, which has been in operation at Lough Lannagh, Castlebar for nearly a decade, announced last Saturday that it will close when its insurance policy expires at the end of this month.

According to Mr Barrett it has been more than two years since the Government introduced an Action Plan for Insurance Reform, however businesses operating in the adventure tourism sector say they have not seen premiums decrease.

"We have to call out this BS now, because this is seriously harming what we are trying to build here in County Mayo," the former county councillor warned. "My heart goes out to the young people out of work now, who were working for Mayo Adventure Experience. They ran a thoroughly professional service, used by schools and groups around the county, and now there are unemployed due to extortionate insurance costs.

"Businesses like them are doing their best trying to attract families into the county, building our tourism brand, offering people adventure tourism, and now profiteering in the insurance industry is threatening to smash all of that.

"This is a major issue for the Western Development Commission, Fáilte Ireland and indeed Mayo County Council who spend a fortune trying to promote the county," Mr Barrett continued. "Adventure tourism operators here would say it's something like four and a half times the cost of insurance in Ireland versus the UK, and we're paying six to eight times the cost of what a business in Germany, for example, are paying.

"They say these rates have nothing to do with the level of claims associated with adventure tourism here, or the level of risk involved. They also maintain that there is no trend there that that shows Ireland has been any riskier than other countries to do business, whether that be adventure tours or anything else.

"This Government has sat on its hands now for years allowing profitering in the insurance industry and doing next to nothing to support struggling businesses in the county who are threatened with closure. This has to be a major election issue as it is starting to seriously harm what our local businesses are trying to build. It's harming employment and its harming the county."

Jarlath McHale, owner of Mayo Adventure Tourism, announced the company's closure in a Facebook post last weekend, saying the popular facility would close its doors on June 30.

The company had been providing water-based activities, orienteering, summer camps, team building and other adventure pursuits since 2014.

"Our insurance runs out at the end of June 23 and we decided not to renew it," he said in the update. "This obviously means that all our activity on the lake after that date will not go ahead, including camps. I would like to thank everyone for all the support over the years, to all the kids who made the adventure camps the success they are. We created nine years of great memories (this would have been our 10th summer ) and we also achieved so much more.

"Thanks to all our instructors and junior instructors who worked so hard to create so many memories for kids, This was truly the biggest adventure we’ve been on so far. There are too many people to thank here so I'll thank them in person. Lough Lannagh has been a great host to kids, families, teams, groups all looking for adventures. We wish you a wonderful summer and hope you find adventure wherever you go."


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