Coach tourism needs £65m a month as it faces fight for its future with 18 month winter warns CPT

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The Confederation of Passenger Transport (CPT) has warned that the industry is in a fight for its future because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Despite the spring and summer being the peak period only 2% of coaches that are normally involved in a range of tourist trips are currently being used and bookings are not expected to return to pre pandemic levels until summer 2021.

Despite the mothballing of coaches and the majority of staff on furlough operators are still facing costs on average of £1900 per day. These costs have been compounded by unprecedented cancellations and the failure of government to classify coach tourism as a leisure business making operators ineligible for a Covid-19 business rates holiday and grant.

The last mass gathering of coaches was at the Cheltenham Gold Cup, which was on 13 March, 10 days before the lockdown commenced. RICHARD SHARMAN

Commenting CPT Chief Executive Graham Vidler said: “Coach tourism is in a fight for its future with the complete collapse of bookings for the summer period and the expected quieter winter period to come.

“The industry directly employs 42,000 people with many more jobs dependent on the sector to get people to attractions and destinations. Without support these jobs are under threat as operators have to lay off staff and attractions see reduced footfall as customers, many of whom rely on coach to travel, face fewer choices and difficulties in reaching destinations.

“The collapse of coach tourism will mean a significant increase in the carbon footprint of tourism as people revert to carbon heavy car journeys to visit attractions and destinations.”

The three point support package set out by CPT includes:

  1. A cash injection into the industry worth £65m a month to help the industry cover its costs for the rest of 2020. The rate of payments would taper off in line with an expected increase in future bookings.
  2. A flexible job retention scheme to allow staff to remain on furlough until business levels return to normal.
  3. Confirmation that coach tour operators are to be treated as leisure businesses for the purposes of Covid-19 support.

Graham continued: “This injection of cash into the industry along with the continuation of the furlough scheme is vital. Without it many operators will go under as a result of the 18 month winter they are facing with little to no bookings.

“The failure to classify the sector as leisure is deeply disappointing and shows a worrying lack of understanding from government about its role, this must be reviewed immediately.”