Otley has been shortlisted for one of the top accolades in coach tourism at this year’s British Coach Tourism Awards.
The town will vie for the prize of the country’s most Coach Friendly Destination against four other villages and towns at a glittering awards ceremony to be held on Wednesday March 25, 2020, at the National Motorcycle Museum in Birmingham.
The national awards recognise excellence in coach tourism, and nominees for the Coach Friendly Destination award are selected based on their commitment to welcoming coaches, coach groups and coach drivers, as well as steps they have taken to improve the coach friendliness of the destination over the previous 12 months.
Otley has targeted coach tourism as a development sector as part of its ongoing commitment to increase tourism to the town, a move spearheaded by a Town Coordination Group that includes representatives of Otley Town Council, Otley BID, Otley Town Partnership and the Otley & District Chamber of Trade and Commerce.
Over the past years, a number of coach-friendly initiatives have been set up, including a dedicated Coach & Group Travel page on the visitotley.co.uk website, pick-up and drop-off bays, dedicated coach parking and improved road signage. Other initiatives include improved facilities for drivers, including a £5 welcome voucher to spend in Otley’s cafes and restaurants, and the chance for coach trips to request an official welcome from Otley Bellman, Terry Ford.
Those improvements led to the town receiving official Coach Friendly Status recognition in 2019 – an award offered by the Confederation of Passenger Transport UK, for towns with exceptional welcomes for coaches, drivers and passengers.
Lawrence Ross of Visit Otley said: “Otley’s shortlisting for the award of the country’s most Coach Friendly Destination follows on from our receiving official Coach Friendly Status in 2019 – and both are proof of the positive changes we have made to welcome coach visitors in the town over the last three years.”
Chair of the Otley Town Council Trade and Tourism Committee Cllr Paul Carter added: “Thanks to our fabulous historic market town setting and the use of Otley as a location for popular TV series such as Emmerdale, the town presents an attractive stop for those coach companies that already offer Yorkshire tours. We hope to use the accolades we have received to attract an increasing number of new coach companies to sample the delights of Otley over the coming months.”
Competition at the awards will come from Bournemouth, Christchurch & Poole Tourism (BCP Tourism), Burnham-on-Sea, Southport, and Wells in Somerset.