Coach tour op­er­a­tors appeal for sup­port to save 27,000 jobs

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Business - By Oliver Gill

AROUND 27,000 coach jobs are un­der threat this win­ter, and two in five of the UK’s tour op­er­a­tors could col­lapse within months, in­dus­try lead­ers have warned.

Bosses are urg­ing min­is­ters to ban the re­pos­ses­sion of coaches by lenders to give op­er­a­tors breath­ing space over what is tra­di­tion­ally a qui­eter pe­riod.

They also want a pledge from White­hall to treat the coach travel in­dus­try on a par with ho­tels and res­tau­rants so that op­er­a­tors can ac­cess sup­port handed to the wider leisure sec­tor over the win­ter.

A fail­ure to act would be a derelic- tion of duty from the Gov­ern­ment and risks wip­ing 10pc off the value of Bri­tish tourism, in­dus­try lead­ers have warned Nigel Hud­dle­ston, the tourism min­is­ter.

Some 23m vis­its to UK at­trac­tions are made each year by coach, the Con­fed­er­a­tion of Pas­sen­ger Trans­port said in a let­ter to Mr Hud­dle­ston. It added: “The col­lapse of the coach travel sec­tor will mean many of th­ese vis­its sim­ply do not take place, threat­en­ing jobs across the UK that rely on tourism.

“While op­er­a­tors are do­ing ev­ery­thing they can to stay afloat, and busi­ness is slowly re­turn­ing, book­ings are not ex­pected to re­turn to pre-pan­demic lev­els un­til sum­mer 2021.”

One of the travel in­dus­try’s big­gest cor­po­rate ca­su­al­ties so far has been Spe­cial­ist Leisure Group, which ran brands such as Shear­ings and Na­tional Hol­i­days.

Some 2,500 jobs were lost and 64,000 book­ings can­celled when it col­lapsed into ad­min­is­tra­tion in May.

Ali­son Ed­wards, CPT pol­icy chief, said: “Al­low­ing the coach travel sec­tor to col­lapse would be a dere­lic­tion of duty from the Gov­ern­ment.

“The sec­tor is vi­tal to con­tin­ued growth of UK tourism by en­sur­ing that mil­lions of peo­ple can visit at­trac­tions across the UK each year. With­out sup­port for coach travel we are risk­ing not just the fu­ture of the sec­tor but jobs across the tourism in­dus­try as peo­ple strug­gle to travel to days out.”

Kurt Jan­son, a di­rec­tor of the Tourism Al­liance added: “Coach op­er­a­tors are a large and vi­tal com­po­nent of the UK’s world-class tourism in­dus­try.

“Whether it be tak­ing over­seas vis­i­tors on tour, stu­dents on ed­u­ca­tional trips, trans­fer­ring con­fer­ence del­e­gates, bring­ing sports fans to games or pro­vid­ing day trips for peo­ple to visit at­trac­tions or see a West End show, they bring rev­enue and jobs to ev­ery des­ti­na­tion they visit.”

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