Summary 40.“ Day of Coach Tourism -Tag der Bustouristik“
New Normality – Return to the Future
Start into the new Tourism Season and into a new, different Normality
A panel of experts analysed and discussed: how will coach tourism project its previous market presence into the future and how will it defy crises?
- Coach tourism within the recovery programs of the destinations.
- Where are coaches welcome again?
- Perspectives of coach entrepreneurs – attractive offers after the crises?
- Alternatives of local tourism industry for group tourism?
- Fresh money to finance relaunch.
- Ukrainian War impairs travel not only in Eastern Europe and Central Asia.
- Views beyond the horizon: challenges – particularly Brexit – and chances in Europe, innovations for coach tourism etc.
The 40th „Day of Coach Tourism“ was successfully carried out on Monday, November 7th, 2022 in Wiesbaden, Germany.
More than 170 professionals of the coach tourism industry and their international business partners attended the popular „Day of Coach Tourism /Tag der Bustouristik“: the European meeting for all seriously involved with and interested in promoting the coach and group tourism sectors.
It turned out to be a highly rewarding business networking opportunity :The pre-conference Get-together on the evening of Sunday, November, 6th 2022 in the Sektkellerei Henkell -Freixenet ,Sparkling Wine Cellars kicked-off the face-to-face meeting of the trade – finally, after the long spred of video conferences during the pandemic.
The Conference Theme: New Normality for Coach Tourism – Return to the Future analysed the situation of coach tourism in the stage of a hopefully receeding Covid pandemic and the consequences of the Ukrainian War for tourism industry. The cross-industry expert-debate elaborated recovery programs and focused on solutions.
Karl-Reinhard Wissmüller, Chairman of Landesverband Hessischer Omnibusunternehmen LHO (bus operator association) came full circle in his speech with the very first „Tag der Bustouristik“ in 1982, then under the patronship of LHO. In reference to the economic importance and ecological benefits of coachtravel he substantiated political demands. He hopes for free entry of coaches into cities and touristic sites throughout Europe. Christiane Hinninger, Commissioner for Economic Developement of the City of Wiesbaden underlined the contribution of coach travellers for the Hessian capital and vice versa the attraction for coach tourism. She also assured to evaluate Wissmüllers demands for optimized coach stops.
Coach travel is special – particularly because „the way is the goal“. The Coach is the medium to make travel dreams come true. In his impulse statement Vincent Dewaele, General Manager of BUSWORLD International, illustrated the decisive role of this very special transportation vehicle. BUSWORLD exhibitions globaly present high technology around the bus, which truthfully can claim to be global champion of all motorized vehicles for climate protection. Furthermore these exhibitions generate important findings for sustainable travel. BUSWORLD is the coachpartner of „Tag der Bustouristik“.
Dieter Gauf, Director and screenwriter of „Tag der Bustouristik“ explained the philosophy and concept of this independent trade symposion throughout 40 years: exploration of explosive, often controversial topics, a special culture for controversy and search for solutions, with reknown, valiant expertspeakers Gauf highlighted impulses given and themes, which are still urgent. He thanked several previous experts which had contributed to the series of conventions.
Return to the future: in order to build upon tried and tested experience it is necessary to analyse the causes. Gauf rendered current results of of consumer and market behaviour research in the era of Covid and Ukrainian war and findings of consumer reaction in and after crises as basis for the subsequent debate.
Johannes Hübner, TV and radio commentator and anchorman of trade debates moderated the exiting exchange of information and views. „Topics, Theses Interjections“ was the frame for this debate, particularly to trigger input of the plenary.
Priority of coach tourism within the recovery programs of tourism destinations? Is local tourism industry prepared for relaunch? Are coaches welcome again or will mistakes be repeated? Some overlook the benefits of coaches and bar coach entry as unsuitable measure against overtourism. Lockout after lockdown? Romeo Draghicchio, Member of the Board of Corps Touristique CT and Director of Kroatische Zentrale für Tourismus (Croatian Tourist Board in Germany) stood up to these burning questions. Speaking for the CT as the association of international tourist boards representing global tourism diversity. On the other hand he brought in the experiences of the popular coach destination Croatia. Obviously there exist disparities among different countries and regions in the splits between persistent regulations and emerging incentives. One of the many discussion inputs from the plenary: Madame Karine Lober, director of Atout France (French Tourist Board in Germany and Poland) elaborated how and where regions of the „Grande Nation“ are again promoting coach tourism
Martin Michel, CEO of Wiesbaden Congress & Marketing GmbH presented a German contrast: Destination Wiesbaden Rheingau – a bestpractice of joint marketing and one-shop for offers of Wiesbaden and the popular Rheingau region. „2023 – Wiesbaden im Rheingau“
Sean Taggart, Director of European Tourism Association ETOA and patron of “Tag der Bustouristik“, contributed international perspectives. E.g. findings of global travel and how coach operators und service providers are preparing for relaunch. He also explained perceptions of ETOA workshops in respect to procurement of tourism services and conditionspolicy. Representing an European association with British roots, Taggart also focused on Brexit. Brexit has considerable consequences for global travel particulary via UK gateways to and from EU. E.g. margin taxation and visa procedures. Human capital flight is a severe brake for growth in tourism industry, particularly brain drain of qualified staff. Incidentally Taggart is also owner of TourEasy, UK`s first and only carbon-free coach touroperator.
For over 85 years Omnibusbetrieb (bus operator) Philippi has overcome many crises. Mark Philippi, busoperator in the third generation and also member of LHO board dealt with the outlook for bus operators after the current crisis.scenario: It is important to regain consumer trust and goodwill. And to generate consumer needs and fulfill their desires. He sees sustainability in ecological and climate-friendly coaches as ways to success. And nature experience as a new form of luxury.
Finally he constated staff shortage and the need for staff-training. Members of the tourmanager and touristguide associations brought valuable interventions from within the plenary.
The Ukrainian war affects group travel destinations in Eastern Europe and Central Asia – key markets of small and middlesize special touroperatos – such as Jochen Szech, owner of GO-EAST Reisen und member of the board of Allianz Selbständiger Reiseunternehmen ASR Bundesverband (federation of independent touroperators). The war forced him to replace an essential market completely. Unfortunately many customers also refuse to travel to regions in more distant surroundings not even affected. As a solution he develops tours to regions with similiar character, such as Albania, where he can employ special knowhow for travel to unexplored destinations..
After financial grants and government aid programs are running out, the industry will need new money. Volker Schatten, expert on crowd investments illuminated alternatives to traditional bank loans.
During and after these expert statements many participants joined the debate. One pressing question involved the integration of longdistance regular coach services into government subsidized nationwide 49-Euro-Tickets.
The Get-together on the evening before the convention proved to be a treasured platform for person-to-person communication – sorely missed during the long covid-interruption. 120 guests came to the kick-off at the Sektkellerei Henkell -Freixenet. This sparklingwine cellar is a very popular program module of event tours. The VPR, Verband der Paketreiseveranstalter (tour wholesaler association) surprised the participants with a birthday cake celebrating 40 years „Tag der Bustouristik: Dieter Gauf and members of VPR presidium Maurice Masternak, Carsten Dreyer und Generalmanager Florian Gärtner cut the cake. Several coach and grouptravel entrepreneurs had already explored the city and museums of Wiesbaden..
„Now it is important to look at the future, build upon tried and tested to exploit new opportunities.“ Dieter Gauf, Organizer of „Tag der Bustouristik“
Gauf also commended the excellent support of Wiesbaden Congress & Marketing GmbH, the host of 40.“Tag der Bustouristik“; „From the start we knew and experienced Wiesbaden as the perfect partner. Their special motivation, flexibility and expertise were particularly crucial during the hot covid phase and the consequential postponement of the original meeting date in January.
The historical Wiesbaden Kurhaus was an impressive location for our anniversary convention and a showpiece for what a host city can offer.“
The 41. „Tag der Bustouristik – Day of Coach Tourism“
will be on 15. January 2024 in Halle (Saale).
Organizer: Dieter Gauf Projectmanager: Wolfgang Gauf
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