A delegation from the European Alliance for Coach Tourism (EACT) discussed key issues concerning the European coach tourism sector with high-ranking EU representatives on 18th September 2012 in the European Parliament and European Commission in Brussels.
The delegation consisted of Willy Della Valle (President CONFARTIGIANATO Autobus Operators), Richard Eberhardt (President, IBV – International Coach Tourism Association and RDA), Kjell Peterson (Swedish National Coach Operators’ Organisation), Stephen Smith (Operations Director, CPT Confederation of Passenger Transport UK), Dieter Gauf (CEO, RDA) and Sandra van de Walle (RDA Representative in Brussels).
During the meeting with Antonio Cancian, Italian MEP and Member of the EU Parliamentary Committee for Transport and Traffic, the EACT demonstrated that coach tourism fulfils vital economic and social functions. Medium-sized coach tour operators contribute significantly to the accessibility and development of tourism in rural areas and hinterland regions, thereby supporting European tourism policy objectives. Moreover, coach tourism operators and their contract partners secure millions of jobs in Europe. Despite these positive aspects coach travel is still highly discriminated compared to other modes of transport. Themes also discussed at the Brussels meeting included a demand for special driving and resting hours for coach drivers; technology and ecology in modern tour coaches.
Special regulations for coach drivers were discussed with Mathieu Grosch (Belgian MEP and EVP Parliamentary Party Co-ordinator for Transport and Tourism). Grosch pointed out that the most decisive criterium was safety. RDA CEO, Dieter Gauf, was able to illustrate on the basis of RBI findings (RDA – Coach Intervent Accident & Safety Monitoring) that there were no proven negative effects on safety arising from the “12-day rule” for coach drivers’ hours.
Discussions were also held with Michael Shotter, Member of the Cabinet of Viviane Reding, Vice-President of the EU Commission for Justice, Civil Rights and Citizenship. Mr. Shotter began by explaining the current status of the ‘Amendment of the EU Package Tours Directive’. In this context, he reassured the EACT delegation that alliance demands concerning the retention of a possibility to cancel trips when minimum participant numbers were not reached would be given due and careful consideration. This issue is fundamental to medium-sized coach holiday operators’ business model which ensures that consumers can choose from a wide selection of offers and destinations.
Richard Eberhardt, President of IBV and RDA, stated in conclusion:
“It is clear that we are on the right path with our joint European Alliance for Coach Tourism. We can articulate our case far more effectively with this broader foundation. We view ourselves as bridge builders – with the first pillars already set for the removal of one-sided political preferences for rail and air passenger transport.”