Operators have expressed further concern following the goverment’s decision to exclude the coach tourism sector from Restart grants. Robert Shaw, Chair of the Coach Tourism Association (CTA), said: “CTA is very concerned to see that the government guidance on Restart grants to leisure businesses specifically excludes coach tour operators. Coach holidays and day trips are an integral part of the domestic tourism sector and also support incoming tourism.
“The latest government advice contrasts with clear statements from Tourism Minister Nigel Huddleston MP which recognised that coach tour operators are vital facilitators within the leisure and tourism sector. Speaking about the Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG) in a House of Commons debate in January, the minister said that local authorities could and should use their discretion to support ARG applications from coach tour operators.
“Some coach tour operators may be eligible for support from the Restart grant as non-essential retail in respect of travel shops and sales offices, but there will inevitably be operators who are left out, and will have to rely on discretionary support through the ARG. We believe that the Tourism Minister’s comments on supporting the coach tour sector should be translated from advice to firm guidance.
“It should also be noted that this comes at a time when the coach sector is being asked to invest considerable capital in new fleets to meet both accessibility requirements and targets on air quality, including new and proposed Clean Air Zones. As we head towards a recovery phase for the sector, we are seeking to engage positively with the government to explore ways of supporting this ongoing investment.”