Coach companies from across the UK will form a convoy that will travel to London today demanding support from the government.

The sector has been severely hit by the COVID-19 pandemic and in March Specialist Leisure Group, the parent of Shearings, went out of the business.

Weston-super-Mare coach firm Bakers Dolphin will be a part of Monday’s protest ‘Honk for Hope’ convoy.

Operators are demanding the UK government acts to save businesses which it says are vital for Britain’s tourism and hospitality industries.

Similar convoys have recently taken place in Lancashire, Wales and North Yorkshire.

Bakers Dolphin says it has lobbied local MPs Dr Liam Fox and John Penrose urging them to put the case for the sector in government.

The family business was established in 1889 and 70 vehicles have stood idle for months with the first of a limited number of tours going ahead in August as lockdown eases.

Many of its 100 employees have been furloughed while some worked as back-up ambulance drivers for Bristol Ambulance EMS across the region.

Managing director Max Fletcher said: “Our vital industry contributes £4 billion to the UK economy.

“We’ve already seen one high-profile casualty, with Specialist Leisure Group, owner of Shearings Holidays, going into administration and we know of seven other firms across the country that have announced closure this week.

“The tourism sector will not be able to bounce back from the pandemic without a secure and viable coach industry to take people to the attractions and hotels.

“Many coach companies, like ours, also provide school transport services, which will be vital to support the Government’s intent to fully re-open schools in September.

“But our school’s work is only financially viable with a thriving tourism business alongside it, as the vehicles are used for other purposes between the morning and afternoon school runs.

“Our trade association, The Confederation of Passenger Transport, recently met with government representatives who said that no additional financial assistance for the coach industry, beyond the existing furlough and loans schemes, will be provided.

“That is why we are supporting the Honk for Hope convoy in London today, because it seems as if the coach industry is being forgotten by a Government which has provided additional financial support to the trains, planes, buses and even e-scooters

“We have been in contact with the Transport Secretary Grant Shapps but he pushed the onus on to local authorities. North Somerset Council are still pursuing a policy of giving school contracts to the lowest bidder, cutting potential income still further.”