Irish travel agent and tour operator Joe Walsh Tours has ceased trading after 60 years in business.
A statement released by the company said they had done everything possible to survive the Covid-19 travel restrictions, but that Ireland having the “most restrictive” measures in Europe meant they were unable to continue trading or fulfill customer obligations.
“Joe Walsh Pilgrimtours Ltd. did everything they could to see themselves and their customers through the pandemic,” a statement from the company reads.
“Travel protocols in Ireland are the most restrictive in Europe, putting Irish travel companies at a disadvantage to their European counterparts.
“Like many travel agencies and tour operators Joe Walsh Pilgrimtours was paying overheads, while at the same time unable to trade and also waiting on refunds from suppliers. Joe Walsh Pilgrimtours has worked full time during the pandemic for no return.
“Joe Walsh Pilgrimtours has business interruption insurance in place. The company had hoped to be able to continue trading with the benefit of a large refund claim from the insurers.
“However, it has not been possible to reach agreement with the insurers at this stage. This will now be a matter for the liquidators to progress in due course.”
The company, which traded under several names, was founded by Down native Joe Walsh in 1961, offering package holidays initially and then expanded into pilgrimage tours, sports travel, music tours and cruises.
The directors of the company, Barry and David Walsh, thanked all customers they had served for their loyalty.
“The decision that has been made is in the best interest of all concerned,” the directors’ statement explained.
“We would like to thank, at this time, all our customers over the years. We would also like to acknowledge the incredible effort that our staff have made, and for their loyalty and support, particularly during the last year.”
The Commission for Aviation Regulation said its consumer protection scheme might cover those customers who are “out of pocket” following the company’s decision.
“The commission also operates a refund credit note scheme. You may be covered by this scheme if your holiday has been cancelled due to Covid-19 and you have yet to receive a refund from Joe Walsh Pilgrimtours,” they said.