Coaching ideas in Blackpool

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Held at The Imperial Hotel, the event was attended by 151 delegates. JOHN SAMSON

Lynda McDairmant reports on the Coach Tourism Association’s 2018 Conference and AGM, held in Blackpool last week

Sea breeze and snow wound up the 2018 Coach Tourism Association Conference (CTA) and AGM held at The Imperial Hotel, Blackpool early last week as ‘The Beast from the East’ reached the West.

Attended by 151 delegates, this annual CTA event, the biggest in the association’s calendar, had the usual good mix of industry news, interesting speakers and a well-attended workshop event for suppliers and operators to get to know each other and their respective businesses, with the view to reinforcing established bonds and to develop knowledge for future products, with new ideas flourishing.

Changing times

I have attended a good few CTA events in my time as Head of Sales & Marketing for Gretna Green Ltd, but this time it was with a fresh new story to tell from an attraction new to the group travel market, The Devil’s Porridge Museum, just minutes from the Anglo-Scottish border that I made my debut as a freelance marketeer for the tourism industry.

I introduced Gretna Green to the CTA many years ago, recognising the value of the association for suppliers to get to know the independent coach operator market in the UK. I regarded, and still do, the CTA as a valuable asset to meet that end. Not only that though, I have discovered over the years the multitude of benefits it provides for all in the UK tourism industry: operators, wholesalers, related associations and suppliers alike.

It is not just a great way to get to know some lovely people, it adds huge value to the efforts we all must make in the tourism industry to elevate coach travel as not only an attractive and viable option for people of all generations but as a responsible and future-thinking option, with environmental issues becoming more and more a focus of our daily lives and a greater feature of news and political debate.

The CTA has delivered consumer PR initiatives to promote the attractiveness of this holiday option and played its part in lobbying Government on issues relating to the industry. This was the first event I attended where Paul Ovington was absent. His dedication to the association was referred to at the AGM as all wished him well into retirement. The AGM also saw Denise Bridges of Albatross step down from her role as CTA Chairman, a position she has held for three years. Chris Wales, Chief Executive gave thanks to her on behalf of the CTA for all her initiatives to improve the structure and running of the association during that time. Newly-elected board members were announced: Daniel Kirby, Kirby Coaches; Roger Bull, RB Travel and Colin Fawcus, DFDS who joined the Board recently, replacing Stuart Duddy. The new Chairman is John Wales of Encore and the new Vice-Chairman, Robert Shaw of Harry Shaw. […]

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