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Coach industry coronavirus support fund welcomed

By Alan Beresford

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A MORAY coach firm has welcomed the launch of a Covid support fund for the industry.

Mayne's Coaches operations director Kevin Mayne. Picture: Daniel Forsyth
Mayne's Coaches operations director Kevin Mayne. Picture: Daniel Forsyth

Coach operators are being encouraged to apply for a share of a £1.6 million fund to help support their businesses through the Covid-19 crisis, as part of the £104.3 million Scottish Government package announced at the end of last year.

The Scotland Coach Operators – Covid-19 Business Support and Continuity Fund – Strand Two has been created with changes to the percentage of total turnover derived from coach tourism / private hire, to benefit more businesses across the coach operator sector.

This new fund has been with developed with input from the Confederation of Passenger Transport (CPT), as per the previous fund launched back in February, one of 14 delivered by VisitScotland on behalf of Scottish Government.

The news was welcomed by Kevin Mayne, operations director at family-run Buckie coach firm Mayne's Coaches.

He said: The CPT Scotland coach commission executive group have been working hard behind the scenes to ensure that we can try to help as many coach operators as possible across Scotland. "Covid-19 has, like many industries, decimated ours, with coaching the most vital cog in the link with people and places. This has shown our importance within tourism, the remote communities that we serve and the places we bring tourists to.

"With an ability to further help operators that just missed out last time, hopefully the power of work put into this second strand will assist those operators now.

"VisitScotland and the Scottish Government have listened to our discussions and continue to work with our industry, and we try to find a road out of Covid and a safe solution to bring our clients around our wonderful, welcoming country. We need to further boost the work already done with Fergus Ewing and the Scottish Government and continue put our industry firmly at the table for further discussions."

Mr Mayne added that he looked forward to future talks with Finance Secretary Kate Forbes and Trade Minister Ivan McKee as well as local MSP Karen Adam.

The first strand supported coach operators in Scotland with a business turnover which is more than 55% of their total turnover, which has now closed.

Applications for this second strand of funding open from 12pm on June 23 until 5pm on June 30 and is open to coach operators with a business turnover which is more than 40 per cent of their total turnover.

The fund provides support to Scottish-based businesses in the coach tourism and coach private hire sector, who are operating the newest and most environmentally friendly vehicle fleet, a Euro 5 or 6 grade and M2 or M3 category, with eight or more seats.

The loss of international visitors over the past year and continuing uncertainty over when they can return, is impacting on many businesses and sectors of the tourism and hospitality. The second strand of funding is to support more coach tour operators while restrictions on travel and capacity are in place.

Malcolm Roughead, chief executive of VisitScotland, said: “We won't just push a button and tourism will recover – we've had a year of very little investment, job losses and business closures – it will take time and significant investment to get us back to a thriving industry.

"With the right support tourism and events can lead the economic recovery and boost inward investment where it’s needed most.

"Over the past year the funding VisitScotland has administered on behalf of the Scottish Government equates to just over £80 million, with 200 of our staff having been redeployed to deal with the 5000 applications we have received.

"A thriving tourism industry is essential to lead Scotland’s pandemic recovery. It is a force for good by not only providing jobs and economic benefits to every corner of the country, but also bringing benefits to our wellbeing and society.”

Malcolm Roughead VisitScotland chief executive. Picture: Callum Mackay
Malcolm Roughead VisitScotland chief executive. Picture: Callum Mackay

For further information on the fund, go to https://www.visitscotland.org/supporting-your-business/funding/coach-operator-fund

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