The recent winter networking event held by the Coach Tourism Association (CTA) in Bournemouth attracted 126 delegates, including coach tour operators, wholesalers, and suppliers. The event was held over two days on Sunday 20 and Monday 21 November, and the Association said the attendance is a record for its end of year winter events. The fully subscribed networking event hosted a number of new members and reflected positivity for the future market as well as the Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole (BCP) area.
“The fully booked event generated widespread new product leads, and it was great to see so many first-time attendees from our expanding membership,” said CTA Chair Robert Shaw. “The scale of participation showed the optimism in market recovery and demonstrated the importance of bringing operators and suppliers together to create day trips and tours for their customer base.”
The contribution from the event’s sponsors also showed the commitment the BCP area is making to coach tourism, said the CTA. Jon Weaver, Head of Destination and Events at BCP Council, spoke at the event’s dinner and explained the sustainable value that coach tourism can bring. Councillor Nigel Hedges, Chairman of BCP Council, and Councillor Robert Lawton, the Charter Mayor of Bournemouth, also addressed the event to express their support of coach groups visiting to the region.
The event was hosted at the Marsham Court Hotel and attendees enjoyed a trip to Poole followed by a City Cruises boat tour in glorious conditions within Europe’s largest natural harbour. Following a visit to the Poole Christmas Maritime Light Festival, the group returned to Bournemouth to experience the Bournemouth Christmas Tree Wonderland, complete with illuminations, festive market, and outdoor ice rink. Before the evening dinner was a guided beer and gin tasting.
The following morning, operators met with suppliers from the BCP area and across the UK in a busy supplier showcase to research and develop new offerings.
“New supplier members were impressed with the ease of access to so many operators at the event. Likewise, our coach operator members were pleased by how many new suppliers there were in attendance that they hadn’t previously dealt with,” said Robert. “Despite how established Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole are during the spring and summer seasons, the trip demonstrated the new and varied attractions the area also has to offer in autumn and winter.”
The next CTA event will be the annual conference and workshop taking place in Belfast on 5, 6 and 7 February 2023.