Showing our support to the coach tourism industry

CPT President Jane Cole heads on tour with Bibby’s of Ingleton and shares some of the highlights

The coach industry has suffered as much as any other during the pandemic and has inexplicably been treated differently to other areas of the leisure and hospitality industry.

Coach tourism contributes a huge £14bn each year to the economy, delivering vital footfall to attractions across the UK, and carrying spectators to concerts, festivals and sporting events. Most destinations have suffered a huge loss in income that was brought about by coach companies being unable to serve them and provide that vital spend.

Confederation of Passenger Transport (CPT) Regional Manager for the North Andrew McGuinness and I opted to take a coach holiday this year to show our support to the industry and to put something back into the pot for a coach operator whose itinerary matched our ability to take time away from our homes and jobs.

Bibby’s of Ingleton came up with the perfect match, so we went on a three-day tour to Hartlepool, Durham, Bishop Auckland, and Darlington.

Bibby’s has made a co-ordinated effort to restore confidence in coach travel by ensuring that customers are well informed about the measures that they have to take to keep everyone safe before departure.

I was picked up by a feeder service (by Peter Bibby himself) and joined the coach at the Ingleton depot where people were arriving for a day trip to Bury Market. The day trip market has returned in earnest with people wanting to get out and about, but not particularly stay overnight.

Customers were very complimentary about the feeder services that Bibby’s provides and, in particular, the secure car parking where they can leave their vehicles until they return. The coach was very comfortable, air conditioned, fitted with seat belts, a toilet on board, and USB charging points.

Chris Bibby, our driver, kept everyone informed about interesting highlights throughout the tour. The emotional connection with the coach driver is very important to customers, and everyone commented on how well Chris influenced the whole holiday experience.

The highlights of the holiday for me were seeing the spectacular Kynren event at Bishop Auckland and staying in a good quality hotel in Durham. There was a shuttle bus operated by Go North East which left from outside the hotel so that people would not have to climb the steep hill to visit the market, castle and cathedral.

We met the Durham Pointers, a group of volunteers based in the city centre, who meet and greet coaches, giving out maps, information, and discounts cards to visitors. They also do regular city tours and promote the best way to enjoy the sites for the disabled.

The whole experience was exceptionally good, and the best feel-good factor has to be that I reduced my carbon dioxide output from 16.5kg if I had gone by car to under 0.02kg as a coach passenger.