The Bus and Coach industry in Northern Ireland has called on the Northern Ireland Executive to support them financially as a priority.
Over 30 coach providers from across Northern Ireland arrived at Stormont from Titanic Quarter earlier this morning to take their appeal to the heart of the Executive.
Without immediate financial support, the industry representative body, Bus and Coach NI has said the industry will be decimated with thousands of jobs at risk. They say the situation because of Covid-19 is worsening by the day.
The coach industry has been one of the most negatively impacted sectors within the tourism ecosystem and will be the last to fully recover. However, many coaches also provide vital services including school transport services in communities right across Northern Ireland which could disappear without financial assistance.
The Bus and Coach industry is a key supporter of the local economy directly employing over 3,000 people and supporting many more throughout the tourism and travel network.
Karen Magill, Chief Executive of Bus and Coach NI said:
“Time is running out to save our industry which is on its knees right now. Without immediate and ongoing financial support, thousands of jobs could be lost and our once thriving coach industry could disappear overnight.
“Coronavirus has had a devastating impact on the whole tourism ecosystem, and it is difficult to see any light at the end of the tunnel for our members. As each day passes, more and more businesses are becoming unviable which unfortunately means job losses. Despite benefiting from the furlough scheme, significant overheads remain which is making it impossible to continue trading.
“The loss of coach providers would have a significant knock on effect – without these coaches how will visitors and customers who rely on us to travel to hotels, restaurants and tourist attractions make their way? These reduced numbers would ultimately have a negative impact on the wider tourism and hospitality industry and economy which needs visitors to survive and thrive again post Covid-19.
On the important role Coach providers play in Northern Ireland, she added:
“It is not just our tourism sector which relies on the coach industry. We are a key part of communities right across Northern Ireland whether that is through transporting school children, sports teams, or those in rural communities. This factor must be recognised and acknowledged with financial support now.”