The coach industry has today (29 March) set out its plan for an ambitious recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic, including grants to help tours get underway as soon as next month and kick start the UK tourism economy.
With lockdown restrictions set to gradually ease, coach tourism can restart this summer giving the industry an opportunity to play a leading role in the UK’s economic recovery.
The CPT has also issued a version for Wales, in the run-up to elections for the Senedd (Welsh Parliament).
A majority of UK residents are planning a domestic break between now and September and coach travel can help fulfil those plans while relieving the traffic pressure on tourist hotspots from Cornwall to the Highlands.
In 2019, the industry provided 23 million coach visits contributing £14bn to the UK tourism sector. Operators face several challenges to get back up and running and deliver a similar contribution in 2021, including being specifically excluded from the UK Government’s restart grants for the leisure and hospitality sector.
Today’s plan Backing Britain’s Coaches calls for:
- A £150m grant-based scheme to support English and Welsh operators to get up and running. Similar schemes are already available in Scotland and Northern Ireland.
- Government backed campaigns to promote coach travel to passengers and locations.
- The Chancellor to extend repayment terms for Coronavirus Business Interruption Loans that he committed to in September 2020.
CPT Chief Executive Graham Vidler says: “The coach industry has suffered as much as any other during the pandemic and has inexplicably been treated differently to other areas of the leisure and hospitality industry. Today’s strategy sets out the road to recovery.
“We need to see coaches treated in line with other leisure and hospitality businesses and this must include a grant scheme to help operators get holidays up and running generating income for local economies across the UK. Without this, many operators will find it unviable to open their doors meaning attractions and places across the country will see less footfall placing jobs and businesses at risk.”
Mr Vidler also highlighted the need for governments to promote the benefits of coach travel to help encourage places and attractions to welcome coach trips this summer.
“Passengers are keen to return but are looking for reassurance that it is safe to do so. We need to see a coordinated effort to restore confidence in coach travel and governments across the UK alongside the industry must champion its benefits to places, attractions and customers.”
As the 2021 Senedd election approaches, the CPT published a ‘daughter strategy’ for Wales, including grants to help tours get underway as soon as next month and kick start the Welsh tourism economy, saying that coach travel can help fulfil those plans while relieving the traffic pressure on tourist hotspots from Cardiff Bay to Snowdonia.
As Wales goes to the polls, CPT Cymru’s agenda for the next Welsh Parliament makes it clear to all election candidates that with the right support the coach industry can recover and grow.
Today’s plan Backing Wales’ Coaches calls for:
- A £7.5m grant-based scheme to support Welsh operators to get up and running. Similar schemes are already available in Scotland and Northern Ireland.
- Developing the coach offer as a key component of Wales’ tourism strategy
- A national clean air fund to help coach operators to invest in new vehicles or retrofit older ones.
CPT Cymru Director Joshua Miles says: “We’re calling for an ambitious agenda that looks to not only help the coach sector recover, but to prosper and grow in the years ahead.
“Like many other sectors, the coach industry has suffered much during the pandemic, with 8 in 10 UK coach operators seeing a 50% reduction in turnover. Indeed, for some operators this has placed their entire future in doubt, with 2 in 10 operators reporting 90% reductions in turnover.
“Along with uncertainty around when the sector will fully reopen in Wales, this has placed enormous strain on coach operators. However, we know there is an appetite for recovery and growth as enquiries begin to pick up for the summer.
“All candidates in the election should be clear that they can make a positive difference to the people of Wales by supporting coach travel in the next Welsh Parliament which will help protect and generate jobs across Wales as we recover from the pandemic.
“Passengers are keen to return but are looking for reassurance that it is safe to do so. We need to see a coordinated effort to restore confidence in coach travel and the next Welsh Government, alongside the industry, must champion its benefits to places, attractions and customers.”
Download the CPT Coach Strategies below: