Coaching industry in crisis
With the tourism economy completely frozen for an indefinite period, the survival of some of the UK’s coach operators is under threat. Many much-loved family firms who have served GTOs and their groups well for decades are facing unprecedented difficulties. Several have closed in recent weeks, including The Swallow Coach Company in Rainham, Sea View Coaches of Poole, Alexcars of Cirencenster, and Nova Tours of Chesterfield.
Nova Tours was first established in 1988 and offered UK seaside holidays and packages with Warner Leisure Hotels. They had received a brand new addition to their fleet as recently as last autumn (with another due this year) but were unable to ride out the flurry of refunds requested when the virus hit the UK travel industry.
David Sheriff, Managing Director, said,
‘When Covid-19 landed in the UK we were inundated with panic cancellations for the whole year. We estimate we lost around 40% of our bookings for the year ahead in the first few weeks of that first case being diagnosed. Then we had to contend with the travel ban. We completely understand why it had to be done, none the less it had a catastrophic effect on our business. The final nail in the coffin was that we were down 100% on new bookings with no revenue coming in, and an unprecedented amount of refunds to process with no idea how long this would last. The reality is that we are a small business, and in the end we could not survive Covid-19. The cruellest part of this was that we had hugely invested in Nova Tours’ future and we were set for such a fantastic year.
I would like to thank all the hoteliers who did their utmost to help us in those early days when they themselves were suffering. Your kindness and understanding makes us all so proud of this amazing industry.
I hope you remember your holidays with Nova Tours and the joy and happiness they brought you. I wish everyone in this industry all the luck in the world.’
Meanwhile, the Confederation of Passenger Transport UK (CPT) plans to petition the Government for more help for the industry. Their campaign Back Britain’s Coaches intends to lobby the Government for coach operators to be eligible to access the Covid-19 support package for leisure businesses. It is astonishing that they are currently unable to do so.