News and features

Industry excellence rewarded at British Coach Tourism Awards

More than 350 professionals from across the coach tourism industry gathered at the National Motorcycle Museum near Birmingham on 22 March for the British Coach Tourism Awards 2017.

Special recognition was paid to Joan Johnson of Henley-in-Arden based Johnsons Coach Travel for her outstanding contribution to coach tourism.

Celebrating its 12th anniversary this year, the British Coach Tourism Awards is the only national awards scheme that specifically focuses on coach tourism. The event is organised by Diversified Communications UK, and hosted by Group Tourism & Travel magazine (formerly Coach Monthly). This year’s celebrity presenter was TV personality and broadcaster Gethin Jones.

British Coach Tourism Awards 2017
The British Coach Tourism Awards celebrates excellence among coach tour operators, destinations, visitor attractions and industry suppliers

Here’s the full list of winners:

Coach Friendly Destination (sponsored by P&O Ferries)
– Southport

Coach Friendly Visitor Attraction (sponsored by the Coach Tourism Association)
– West Midland Safari & Leisure Park

European Coach Friendly Attraction (sponsored by DFDS)
– Titanic Belfast

Sea, Canal, Inland Riverboat Carrier (including under-sea) (sponsored by Edward Coaches)
– Windermere Lake Cruises

Heritage Railway (sponsored by Group Tourism & Travel Magazine)
– Lakeside & Haverthwaite Railway

Accommodation Provider (sponsored by the British Tourism & Travel Show)
– Warner Leisure Hotels

Tour Wholesaler (sponsored by Planet Hollywood & Ripley’s London)
– Albatross Travel

Holiday Programme (sponsored by Irish Ferries)
– Glenton Holidays

Day Excursion Programme (sponsored by Warner Leisure Hotels)
– Eastons Coaches

Accessibility Award (sponsored by Coach & Bus UK)
– Chester Zoo

Coach Tour Operator Brochure (sponsored by Hospitality Line and City Cruises)
– Crusader Holidays

Coach Tourism Innovation of the Year (sponsored by Eurotunnel)
– Galloway Coach Travel, for ‘School of Rock coach’

Coach Tourism Professional of the Year (sponsored by the Association of Group Travel Organisers)
– Lisa Weaver, Groups Coordinator, Woburn Abbey and Gardens

Coach Tour Driver of the Year (sponsored by the Coach Drivers’ Club)
– The driver team at Crusader Holidays

Coach Tour Operator: Small Fleet (1-5 coaches) (sponsored by the Rendezvous Hotel, Skipton)
– Tally Ho! Holidays

Coach Tour Operator: Medium Fleet (6-15 coaches) (sponsored by Roadchef)
– Highland Explorer Tours

Coach Tour Operator: Large Fleet (more than 15 coaches) (sponsored by Wrightsure)
– Edwards Coach Holidays

The British Coach Tourism Recognition Award (sponsored by Hilton Worldwide)
– Joan Johnson

Joan, who was unable to be present at the awards, has spent more than 60 years working in the industry. She joined Johnsons Coaches of Henley-in-Arden in Warwickshire, her husband Roy’s family business, in 1956. She retired in December last year at the age of 80. Having joined the business in 1956, with just three coaches, a furniture removal lorry and a taxi, Joan was soon raising five children whilst running a business, and becoming one of the first ever female coach drivers in the UK. In 1981, she completed her first coach tour to Blairgowrie with her son John. From then she has escorted more than 350 tours all over the UK, Europe and worldwide. A true family business, her dedication saw her taking on research to each destination and excursion, making sure that customers were well looked after, and even coming up with the company’s motto: ‘Travel with Johnsons, Travel with Friends’. In her spare time she volunteers for a local charity, raising over £11k in just three years.

Helen Conway, group director at Diversified UK, says: “Once again the sheer quality of this year’s awards entries has been outstanding and sends a strong signal that the domestic tourism sector is getting stronger every year and is a real testament to the strength of commitment of the individuals working within it.

“There are many tourism awards, but only the British Coach Tourism Awards specifically focuses on coach tourism. They are the most important annual celebration of the very best our industry has to offer. As well as recognising excellence and innovation in all aspects of the trade on a big stage, the awards offer winners a year-round marketing opportunity and a big morale-booster for hard-working teams. Congratulations again to all our fantastic winners.”

For further information, and to see more photos from the event, go to www.britishcoachawards.co.uk.