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20 Oct, 2011

Buses, Coaches “Beat Cars, Planes for Greening Travel & Tourism”

International Road Transport Union Press Release

Kortrijk (Oct 20, 2011) – About 200 European transport and travel political and business leaders have met here for the 7th European Bus and Coach Forum to discuss best policies and operational practices to further green the travel and tourism chain. They say that buses and coaches offer the “best transport solution” for ensuring the sustainable mobility of European citizens, well ahead of cars and airplanes.

The Forum is jointly organised by the International Road Transport Union (IRU), the Belgian Federation of Bus and Coach operators (FBAA), the European Travel Agents’ and Tour Operators’ Associations (ECTAA) and the European Tour Operators’ Association (ETOA), took place today in Busworld Kortrijk. The Forum focused on how policies can help achieve a legal and administrative framework that promotes and rewards tourists’ and travellers’ green mobility choices, as well as the travel industry’s contribution and best practices.

Isabelle Durant, Vice President of the European Parliament, highlighted the positive contributions made by the bus and coach industry towards greener and more fuel-efficient travel, but also towards job creation in this and other sectors as well as towards affordable travel:

“The Union as well as Member States could and should do more to put an end to the discriminatory fiscal practices that unfairly disadvantage buses and coaches against other, more polluting, transport modes on the travel market.  This is obviously not a time for lower fuel levies, as this would send out the wrong signal to transporters and travellers alike, at a time when finite oil resources should be used more sparsely than ever, but it is time to recognise that the preferential tax regimes granted to competing transport modes hurt this vital industry and should be gradually phased out.”

“Besides economic incentives, more should be done to promote and support the advantages and merits of bus and coach travel over private cars and airplanes in terms of sustainable mobility and this kind of Forum is certainly a good place to start”, she added.

Forum participants concluded that government action should follow, or in many cases precede, the necessary change in the mindset and perception of buses and coaches in society. This includes rules and regulations such as sector-specific driving and rest time rules, fair VAT regime, appropriate weights and dimensions of vehicles, industry-friendly low-emission zones, incentives and sufficient public funding for collective passenger transport services by bus and coach, to name but a few.

Graham Smith, Vice President of the IRU, concluded, “Since 90% of all European citizens’ mobility and travel needs are realised below a 100 km distance, the most credible policy and customer transport solution is undoubtedly the bus and the coach. Only by placing buses and coaches at the heart of policy making and by setting a clear political strategy and business target to double their use can policy-makers at EU, national, regional and local level create a legislative, market and operational environment conducive to produce a shift in the behaviour of customers and tourists. In short, only bus and coach transport offers the possibility to achieve inclusive, efficient, affordable and sustainable mobility for European citizens and visitors, at the lowest cost to society.”

Forum participants also enjoyed a guided “green tour” of Busworld exhibitors, as a special green path in the exhibition halls guides visitors to products and concepts with special relevance to sustainability, reductions in emissions and noise, fuel economy, recyclability, weight reduction, thus showcasing the latest technologies developed by vehicle manufacturers and suppliers to further green mobility, travel and tourism.

See the Forum’s Highlights

See the Industry’s recommendations to double the use of buses & coaches

See the winners of the IRU 2011 City Trophy, Bus Excellence and Coach Tourism Innovation Awards

Southport (UK) awarded world’s friendliest group tourism destination

Geneva – Southport, England’s classic resort was today awarded the IRU City Trophy 2011 by an international jury for its long term business friendly and customer oriented policies, which have led to almost doubling the number of visiting tourist coaches (from 2883 to 5252) between 2000-2010.

The excellence of Southport’s services offered to coach drivers, weighed in the jury’s decision. The city provides quality parking facilities, assistance and accommodation, meet-and-greet services and information for drivers and tourists.

Cllr Mike Booth, Sefton Council’s Cabinet Member for Leisure, Culture & Tourism, said, “We have been working closely with the travel trade for ten years now and it’s wonderful that all the hard work undertaken by our tourism team has been recognised with this international award. The economic impact of coach visits to Southport cannot be underestimated and for many hotels and retailers it is a substantial part of their business.”

IRU Vice President, Graham Smith, emphasised: “This Global IRU award is meant to showcase and promote cities, such as Southport, that effectively implement policies favourable for group tourism by coach and invest in appropriate facilities to improve access for coaches and their customers. By encouraging group tourism by coach, such policies reduce congestion and pollution, while boosting local income from tourism. Together with our partners from the global travel industry, we will make sure that travel organisers promote such excellent destinations to their customers across the globe.”

The IRU City Trophy is awarded biennially. It acknowledges and rewards municipal authorities across the world that implement exemplary proactive policies favouring sustainable group tourism by coach.

Read more about: Smart Move campaign

Videobustour – 2011 coach tourism innovation champion

Kortrijk – The IRU Coach Tourism Innovation Award 2011 international jury* declared Videobustour, Germany’s “better city sightseeing tour” company, this year’s winner for its innovative coach tourism service: “Discover a new form of city sightseeing – unique multimedia tours on buses with on-board video screens”, which couples a traditional sightseeing coach tour with modern multimedia tools.

In addition, the international jury highlighted Videobustour’s modern approach to reach new target audiences, by using the latest multimedia technology, including historic film footage, photographs and audio material presented on video screens throughout the bus during the tour. The combination of experienced tour guides and rich content offers a wide range of tours attracting, among others, a younger, local and well-off public. Coach tourism has seen an increase in regions where Videobustours have been used.

Receiving the award, Andreas Dahrendorf, Managing Director of Videobustour said: “This award is a wonderful and important recognition for our work that motivates us to keep developing our successful concept for Videobustour and to introduce new ideas. In the future our guests will not only experience multimedia on video monitors, but we will also introduce on demand services for tablet computers. Location, guest, and coach will be able to actively communicate with each other in real time, exchange ideas and select individual content. That is the future for Videobustour, and we believe that is one crucial trend for coach tourism.”

The international jury also commended the runner-ups, Salaűn Holidays (France), for its continuous improvements in the comfort of their fleet, namely with its new coach Impérial Space, representing a new, innovative and attractive way of coach travel, as well as Fun Cars (Belgium), for its initiative to place greening coach travel at the centre of its company’s promotional efforts, and for linking it with the global Smart Move campaign.

IRU Vice President, Graham Smith, said: “By launching this new global company award, we want to encourage companies, like Videobustour, to proudly display the wealth of innovation and service excellence that is abundant in our sector, not only to their customers, but also to policy decision-makers at international, national and local level, and to contribute to the creation of the much needed pro-coach societal and political mindset.”

The IRU Coach Tourism Innovation Award is awarded biennially. It acknowledges and rewards companies active in coach tourism across the world that implement exemplary innovative policies favouring sustainable group tourism by coach. This is the first edition of the award.