Liberal Democrats on Cornwall Council are proposing a motion for the council to lobby central Government for a support package to ensure that the coach tour industry in Cornwall remains viable.
The coach tour industry in Cornwall, while relatively small, is highly important both economically and socially. However, it is under severe threat because of the short-term effects of the coronavirus crisis which mean that many coach companies have already become unviable.
Many residents of Cornwall, especially the elderly, very elderly and vulnerable depend on coach tours for holidays which are affordable, add to physical and mental wellbeing, fit the social prescribing agenda and are practical for them to enjoy.
Some hotels in Cornwall which rely on visitors on coach tours to keep them going outside the main holiday season have already been forced to close, with the risk that many more may follow.
The loss of expenditure by these visitors to Cornwall affects retail, visitor attractions and other sectors of the Cornish economy, especially in the main seaside resorts.
Coach tour operators employ 40,000 people and bring directly £4.4 billion to the UK economy as well as a huge indirect economic value to tourism areas. There were 151,560 coach visitors in Cornwall in 2016 with over 44 million pounds into the Cornish economy. The cost of support for this sector would be small compared with the treatment of other sectors. The objective must, however, be that, after the pandemic, the opportunity to provide coach holidays remains.
The Government has worked up emergency packages to assist various parts of the tourism sector and other parts of the economy. However, there is no scheme to support the coach tour industry with its unique characteristics and needs.
Liberal Democrats on Cornwall Council are calling on the Government to take appropriate measures in a bespoke package supported by adequate funding to reinforce the coach tour industry. The motion put forward by Lib Dem Councillor Jackie Bull will be discussed at full council on 7th July.
The motion asks the Government to consider the following:
- Extension of the furlough scheme or industry-specific measures to allow some staff to cover the period up to at least Easter 2021.
- A relaxation of the rules around the release of bonding and refund times.
- A VAT holiday.
- A broader tailored package as necessary and established in liaison with appropriate industry bodies including the Confederation Of Passenger Transport and the Coach Tourism Association.
Jackie Bull, Lib Dem Councillor for St Austell Poltair who proposed the motion:
“Many hotels and other parts of the tourism industry in Cornwall rely on the coach tour industry for their livelihoods. The coach industry faces unique challenges which require a bespoke solution.
“Coach holidays provide elderly and vulnerable people with an affordable holiday to enjoy. The coach tour industry provides a vital social link that we can’t afford to lose.”
Joanna Kenny, Lib Dem Councillor for Newquay Pentire who seconded the motion:
“Newquay has already been badly affected. The collapse of Shearings has led to the closure of two of our major hotels around Narrowcliff, with the coach trade having formerly brought in very welcome out of season visitors to our resort. There is no news yet that these will be taken on as a ‘going concern’ – and we fear like other lost hotels, that they will be replaced by blocks of flats, changing the look of Narrowcliff for ever.
“Having taken advice from coach industry professionals, we have put forward a motion to gain central government support for an important industry within Cornwall. We’re calling on all our councillor colleagues at Cornwall Council to support the motion.”
Cllr Geoff Brown, Cabinet Member for Transport and local member for Newquay Central:
“The news that Shearings Coaches has gone into administration is tragic news for those in Newquay who work at the Marina Bay and Beresford Hotels which are owned by the company. They specialised in offering cost effect coaching holidays to Cornwall, especially targeted at a more senior market. I have spoken to many of these holidaymakers and many return to Newquay on an annual basis, some even 2 or 3 times a year, which has helped to boost trade for our town during the colder months.”