Inbound tour operators Cashel Travel and Tiernan Travel have merged after Cashel acquired 50% of Tiernan for an undisclosed sum.
Cashel Travel chief executive James Aitken and Tiernan Travel managing director Kristine Bileskalne said they felt combining forces would aid their recovery amid a continuing lack of support from the government.
Tiernan Travel, based in Stratford upon Avon, specialises in bespoke UK and Ireland tours. Cashel Travel, which has offices in Edinburgh and London, specialises in MICE and luxury travel and group tours.
Cashell has 13 staff, but Bileskalne has been keeping Tiernan going on her own. She said: “The last two years have been tough.”
Aitken said: “Having Tiernan Travel join our family of companies will be hugely beneficial.”
He told Travel Weekly: “Kristine contacted me after I advertised a position in Cashel Travel. Neither of us had considered looking for a merger.
“We talked about the last couple of years and it seemed there were a lot of potential synergies. We got on well and agreed to merge. We did the due diligence and closed the deal in a couple of weeks.”
Aitken forecast “a lot more consolidation” saying: “A lot of company owners are disillusioned and given the opportunity to join a larger business will jump at the chance.”
He explained: “Like a lot of companies in inbound tourism, Tiernan Travel failed to receive any support beyond loans. There was nothing fundamentally wrong with the business.
“They have been unable to trade because they don’t do domestic tourism, and many have not received any assistance whatsoever.
“It takes a lot of nerve to keep trading where there is no clarity from government as to when or if we can start taking bookings.
“The current rules which say a person vaccinated in the UK doesn’t have to quarantine but someone in Calais having had the same vaccine does make no sense.”
However, the Cashell Travel boss insisted: “I’m far more positive now than I’ve been for months.
“Our staff are now back at work and busy with business for 2022 and beyond. In fact, we’re actively recruiting and approaching staff who left last year to bring them back.
“As soon as the government clarifies its intentions for inbound tourism there will be a rapid bounce back in business. We have clients just waiting to be told a date.”
Bileskalne will remain as director at Tiernan. Aitken is chairman of inbound association UKinbound.