Around 27,000 coach jobs are under threat this winter and two in five of the UK’s tour operators could collapse within months, industry leaders have warned.
Bosses are urging ministers to ban the repossession of coaches by lenders to give operators breathing space over what is traditionally a quieter period.
They also want a pledge from Whitehall to treat the coach travel industry on a par with hotels and restaurants so that operators can access support handed to the wider leisure sector over the winter.
A failure to act would be a dereliction of duty from the Government and risks wiping 10pc off the value of British tourism, industry leaders have warned tourism minister Nigel Huddleston.
Some 23m visits to UK attractions are made each year by coach, the Confederation of Passenger Transport (CPT) said in a letter to Mr Huddleston.
It added: “The collapse of the coach travel sector will mean many of these visits simply do not take place, threatening jobs across the UK that rely on tourism.
“While operators are doing everything they can to stay afloat, and business is slowly returning, bookings are not expected to return to pre-pandemic levels until summer 2021.”
One of the travel industry’s biggest corporate casualties so far has been Specialist Leisure Group, which ran brands such as Shearings and National Holidays.
Some 2,500 jobs were lost and 64,000 bookings cancelled when it collapsed into administration in May.
CPT policy chief Alison Edwards said: “Allowing the coach travel sector to collapse would be a dereliction of duty from the Government. The sector is vital to continued growth of UK tourism by ensuring that millions of people can visit attractions across the UK each year.
“Without support for coach travel we are risking not just the future of the sector but jobs across the tourism industry as people struggle to travel to days out.”
Kurt Janson, a director of the Tourism Alliance added: “Coach operators are a large and vital component of the UK’s world-class tourism industry.
"Whether it be taking overseas visitors on tour, students on educational trips, transferring conference delegates, bringing sports fans to games or providing day trips for people to visit attractions or see a West End show, they bring revenue and jobs to every destination they visit.”