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Coronavirus: Coach convoy highlights impact on industry

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image captionAbout 32 coaches took part in the demonstration

A convoy of coaches has taken to the road to highlight the impact of coronavirus on the industry.

More than 30 coaches left Carmarthen for Haverfordwest in Pembrokeshire, ending up in Cardigan, Ceredigion.

Protest organiser Stuart Hewens, of Laugharne Travel, said the coach industry has been overlooked and has called for additional help.

The UK Treasury said it had provided a "generous and wide-ranging package of support" for businesses.

The rally is part of a UK-wide campaign named Honk for Hope with the industry claiming coach operators are facing costs of an average of nearly £2,000 a day while their buses remain idle.

image caption"We've all come together to show the public there's a problem," said organsier Stuart Hewens

"Since 20 March, not one vehicle has turned a wheel. We're 95% down on takings and we need help," said Mr Hewens.

"We're all family firms and a huge part of the local economy but without further support from the government, we could be in trouble."

Coach companies said they have not received the same financial support as bus companies to cover loss of earnings and want clearer guidance over when they can resume holidays and leisure breaks.

Endaf Jones, of Jones Motors (Login) Ltd bus company, added: "Our business has been running for more than 50 years and we want to carry it on for the next generation [but] this is a very difficult time for us all."

image caption"It could be well into next year when these buses can be moved again," said Shon Rees of Midway Motors

The Confederation of Passenger Transport UK, which represents 1,000 bus and coach operators, is due to meet with the UK government on Wednesday and said more than 40,000 jobs were under threat.

Chief Executive Graham Vidler said: "There is no doubt the coach travel industry feels forgotten by government - it has suffered from unprecedented cancellations and is now facing an 18 month winter of low bookings."

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The Treasury said its job retention scheme had helped a million employers and protected more than nine million jobs.

"As well as furloughing staff, we've introduced a wide range of other targeted support measures for different sectors, including bounce back loans and tax deferrals, business rates holidays and more than £10bn of grants to businesses."

The Welsh Government said: "Our £1.7bn business support package means companies in Wales have access to the most generous offer of help anywhere in the UK.

"Our unique £500m Economic Resilience Fund is part of this and has already supported thousands of firms in Wales, including coach operators.

"The Welsh Government's budget can only go so far and that's why businesses need the UK government to go further and provide the financial support to recover from the pandemic."

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