South Scotland MSP and Scottish Labour’s Transport Spokesperson Colin Smyth has called on the Scottish Government to extend Covid-19 support to coach companies.

During a virtual question time in the Scottish Parliament on Thursday, Colin Smyth questioned Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy and Tourism Fergus Ewing about whether coach companies would be receiving additional support during the pandemic.

Speaking virtually, Colin Smyth said: “As the Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy and Tourism will be aware, although there has been sector-specific financial support for bus companies that provide timetabled services—through, for example, the continuance of concessionary travel reimbursement—there has been no sector-specific support for companies that provide only coach hire services, which would normally be gearing up for the busy tourism period.

“Tourism is likely to be one of the last sectors to leave lockdown and recover. Is the Government considering specific sectoral support for the many hundreds of coach firms that are struggling at this time?”

Speaking after the session, the local MSP added: “Since the start of lockdown I have been contacted by a number of small coach companies in the south of Scotland who are really struggling.

“While we contemplate lockdown measure easing, we know that tourism is going to be one of the last sectors to recover. This should have been one of the busiest times of year for many coach firms but they are now facing an uncertain future which is causing real concern in my constituency.

“The cabinet secretary said there was “an extremely strong case” for coach companies suffering from the lockdown restrictions to be able to claim support and I will continue to push for this going forward. Tourism is hugely important to the economy of the south of Scotland and coach companies cannot be forgotten.”

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