Date: 21/04/2009 Category: Tourism
“Beating the Recession – Helping to Grow your Business” was the theme of a coach holiday conference held across Kent and Medway on 2 and 3 April, attracting more than 130 delegates from across the UK coach tourism industry. Now in its fourth year, the event is held jointly between the Bonded Coach Holidays Group and The Coach Tourism Council. Key speakers included the Chair of Visit Kent, Amanda Cottrell, travel writers Simon Calder and Alison Rice and Director of Transport for the Olympic Development Authority Hugh Sumner. Coach Tourism Council Chairman Sean Taggart said: “The conference is now the major annual event for everyone associated with coach tourism. Like all travel sectors the coach industry faces challenging times and this was an opportunity to focus on how we can beat the recession and actually grow the coach tourism business. “Conferences such as this help us to learn, address concerns and discuss how we can as an industry continue to move forward and it was appropriate that we should do this in Kent and Medway, one of the major destinations for coach tours.” Following an industry workshop on the morning of Friday 3 April, delegates headed off by coach on a choice of guided familiarisation trips in Medway, Canterbury and the Heart of Kent. Medway proved to be the most popular visit, with stops at Dickens World, The Historic Dockyard, Chatham and historic Rochester with a local guide from the City of Rochester Society. Medway Council’s Senior Tourism Officer Mary Sewell was on board the coach to provide visitors with full commentary and destination information. The group received a warm welcome in Rochester by Cllr Mrs Jane Chitty, Medway Council’s Portfolio Holder for Economic, Growth and Tourism. Cllr Chitty said: “We are delighted to host so many leading coach and tour operators in Medway who were very impressed with what the destination has to offer for coach and group visitors. We were particularly congratulated on the partnership work between Dickens World and Rochester, which is making Medway the preferred destination for all things Dickens”. Graham Messenger, Coaching Executive of The Confederation of Passenger Transport UK said: "I was delighted to have had the opportunity to meet with Cllr. Jane Chitty during this trip to Medway and indeed to personally congratulate her and her Tourism Officers on the outstanding facilities offered to the Coach Industry in the area. They have a long standing and highly regarded reputation within the coaching fraternity for being exceptionally coach friendly and have deservedly won many a coach industry award for their endeavours. As a local authority they are recognised and appreciated by the coaching industry both nationally and by our colleagues on the continent. They truly are a great example of what can be achieved, when both the economic and environmental benefits of coach tourism are fully embraced. I have quoted their outstanding examples on many an occasion during the course of my travels up and down the UK visiting with numerous other local authorities and attractions and have been heard more than once to say that if it were at all possible, I would like the opportunity to clone Mary Sewell".