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Tour And Coach Operator Capacity Challenges

A recent story from Christchurch over the weekend highlighted the challenges cruise ships are experiencing with the availability of tour and coach operators to transport tourists.

“It is a sad reminder of the current situation that inbound tour operators face sourcing transport providers for their customers,” says Bus and Coach Association CEO, Ben McFadgen.

“The tour and coach sector is still recovering after the last three years of considerable disruption due to COVID. Sadly, this is something that we have been warning industry about for almost two years. We lost approximately 40% of tour and coach operators during the pandemic, some very large. They received no assistance from the government, unlike the tour destination industry and many other service industries… so many have put their fleet into hibernation or have left the industry altogether.” McFadgen went on to say.

“As soon as a bus is switched on it becomes a cost centre, operators need cash flow and right now they are still refilling the coffers from very little if any income over the last two years. They are facing huge cost increases. It will take time to get all the fleet back on the road. There’s also a nationwide driver shortage and pay and conditions challenges throughout the industry… Finding tour bus drivers is a bit like hunting for unicorns at present.” 

The Bus and Coach Association has encouraged the inbound tour sector to communicate with transport operators and communicate often. 

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“Tour and coach transport operators are doing everything they can to provide services to cruise ship customers. It will take time to rebuild capacity. Inbound tour operators need to manage the expectations of their customers whilst balancing the practicalities of the situation. We ask that they work with transport operators to find viable ways to manage the current dilemma. The operators are 100% dedicated to making it work.” said Mr McFadgen.

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