Dozens of coach firms supporting tens of thousands of jobs are at risk of being lost by next spring, wiping almost 10% off the value of the UK’s tourism sector.
That was the warning on Wednesday (2 September) from the Confederation of Passenger Transport (CPT) to the UK’s tourism minister Nigel Huddleston.
In a letter, the CPT said it was vital government recognised the critical role the coach sector plays in the UK tourism industry, contributing to more than 23 million tourism visits a year and contributing £14 billion to the UK economy.
However, the CPT has warned that after bookings for its peak spring and summer travel windows "collapsed" owing to the coronavirus crisis, with bookings not expected to return to pre-pandemic levels until summer 2021, four in 10 coach firms firms – supporting 27,000 jobs – could be lost as early as April 2021.
The letter further warns a collapse of the coach travel sector would have a wider impact on the UK tourism industry with jobs across the country that depend on tourism being placed at risk as visitors struggle to visit attractions across the country.
Alison Edwards, CPT head of policy, 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.”
To help coach operators through the winter, the CPT is calling for:
Edwards added: “As current government support winds down, operators will be effectively entering their third winter in a row, which without support many will struggle to survive.
"To ensure UK tourism as a whole can bounce back from Covid-19, we need to have a thriving coach travel sector. It’s time for government to pick up the challenge and provide the support the industry urgently needs.”
Tourism Alliance director Kurt Janson 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.”