Coach tourism fulfils important social and economic functions. It brings people of varying cultures and backgrounds together and enables all sections of society to partake in memorable travel experiences.
Coach tourism is a significant contributor to the comprehensive development of tourism destinations and to the opening-up of new tourism markets and regions.
Coach companies and their contract supplier partners are primarily small- to medium-sized enterprises who independently create and secure millions of jobs in Europe. In addition to this, they also employ a safe, comfortable, environment-friendly and road space-saving mode of transport – the touring coach.
Coaches are extremely flexible in their use and are often combined with other modes of transport and as a result make a major contribution to efficient personal mobility within Europe.
Unfortunately, based on the facts, coaches and coach tourism do not receive adequate recognition either from the realm of politics or from the public at large. This is, indeed, very regrettable as public political recognition is important in order to successfully meet the requirements of coach companies’, employees’, tour operators and coach holidaymakers’ interests.
In spite of their proven statistical, scientific, ecological and economic advantages, coach holidays and holiday coaches are still subject to numerous fiscal, taxation and administrative hindrances and discrimination. The advantages of coach travel are still not fully appreciated in the public realm. The representation of the coach tourism sector and the coaching sector’s interests must be strengthened particularly vis-à-vis rail, air and private car. Strong social and political preferences exist for rail and air transport, whereas the ecological, economic and social advantages of coach travel are not fully appreciated or recognized (even though they coincide in many areas with European Union goals for the promotion and development of small- and medium-sized enterprises, tourism development over broad geographic areas, dispersal of mass tourism in large population centres, climate-protection etc.).
The coach sector does indeed achieve individual political successes, e.g. the revision of the “12-day rule” with a modified re-introduction of the same. Several federations worked in concert and over several stages to achieve this success. Many federations possess and maintain considerable political contacts and structures. The coach industry has strong networks and industry-political possibilities. The coach federations possess expertise and specialist knowledge in many areas. Furthermore the coach industry possesses a high degree of specialist competence particularly in the areas of technology, ecology and safety.
In order to successfully target and direct all of this in the overall interests of coach tourism, leading federations, organisations and companies involved in and with the coach tourism sector have come together in an alliance. This alliance, in concert with existing structures and federations formulates, and represents coach tourism interests.
The alliance is not a substitute, or a rival, for existing federations and structures. It aims to exchange experiences and to arrange joint appearances of alliance members along with organizing concerted actions with friendly federations, organizations and companies. This alliance employs an uncomplicated structure. The participants agreed to establish the European Alliance for Coach Tourism on 18th July 2012 in Cologne after holding two meetings, firstly on 26th April 2012 in Graz, Austria and secondly on 26th June 2012 in Vizenza, Italy.