In a letter to Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, Island MP Bob Seely has asked for support for the UK coach travel and tourism industry.
Mr Seely highlighted the contribution that the coach travel industry makes to the UK – and Isle of Wight - visitor economy and asked for a tailored support package to assist them to recommence their operations.
Drawing on input from the coach industry – including Shirley Winn, the Managing Director of IOW Tours – Mr Seely asked specifically for separate guidance for the coach industry which he said was more akin to guidance produced for aircraft flights than buses – where all passengers embark and disembark at the same time making it easier to manage infection control measures.
He said: “New guidance specific to the coach industry will help ensure the future viability of this industry. Without this, many coach operators will struggle to continue and this will have knock-on effects for our attractions, hotels and the wider hospitality and tourism industry that the coach industry serves.”
Mr Seely asked for clarification over the current restrictions on gatherings of more than 30 people - and whether this applied to coach travel – which could make journeys unviable.
He asked the Transport Secretary - and the Department for Transport - to work with industry representatives including the Coach Tourism Association, Confederation of Passenger Transport and individual operators, such as IOW Tours, to develop the guidance he requested.
“We need the coach travel industry to be supported to be able to operate both safely and viably, in a responsible and pragmatic manner. It is important that the Government understands the issues currently preventing them from doing so, and takes swift action to save the summer season for tourism-dependent businesses.”
Shirley Winn, the Managing Director of IOW Tours (based in Lake) added: “As Mr Seely’s letter sets out, the coach industry is a key part of the Isle of Wight’s tourism offer, and it is essential that the Government recognises its distinct nature with some specific guidance to allow it to operate safely.
“I have appreciated the opportunity to provide our MP with detailed input – based on our experience in the industry - to support his representations to the Department for Transport. We are ready to get back on the road, but we need the Government to listen to MPs like ours here on the Isle of Wight. I will be urging coach companies across the UK to get their local MPs to back Mr Seely’s request – and hope that we can see some guidance put in place ASAP to allow us to get coach tours underway to support a resurgence of domestic tourism over the coming months and beyond.”