The main policy ask for coaching must be that is it classed as part of the leisure sector for the purpose of grants. That was the message to attendees at an RHA Coaches webinar held on 4 February from Managing Director of Policy and Public Affairs Rod McKenzie.
Mr McKenzie shared that priority as part of an update on the trade body’s aims for the sector. He says that too many coach operators have struggled, or have been unable, to access government support. As 80% of the industry’s revenue is via tourism and leisure, the change in classification is urgently needed. Mr McKenzie adds that a wider, sector-specific deal support package for coaches is also required.
RHA further believes that government could further assist the industry by mounting a marketing campaign to support domestic tourism that includes promotion of the safety of coach travel.
RHA claims that it will be able to approach these issues successfully because it can break through what Mr McKenzie calls “a glass ceiling” and gain access to senior ministers. For matters related to hauliers, RHA has engaged in discourse with Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Michael Gove. It intends to do the same to present the case for coaching.
Mr McKenzie adds that national government fails to understand the impact of Clean Air Zones (CAZs) on coaches. RHA will include the mode in its existing call for a CAZ Euro V ‘grace period’. Policies that restrict coach access to urban areas have “weird requirements” and they “fundamentally misunderstand the role of the coach industry, and are infuriating,” he says.
Webinar attendees were also told that RHA Coaches membership will open on 1 March, a month earlier than expected. Promotional joining fees will apply for the first year, after which they will be set at RHA’s standard scale. It follows earlier news that Andy Warrender has taken up the role of Coach Operations Manager and will act as RHA’s expert on the sector.
RHA will hold the first of two coach-related round table discussions on 4 March.