Yesterday’s rally for the motorcoach and group travel industry was nothing short of amazing! To see the entire motorcoach and group travel industry descend on Washington, D.C., - from every corner of the country - to make our collective voices heard was unlike anything that has been done to date. I couldn’t be more excited or more proud of our ABA membership and industry colleagues as I was when I saw the coaches lined up at one of the staging areas, and then again when they turned the corner and came across the front of the U.S. Capitol.
The stories of owners who drove and rode on coaches all across the country, and of drivers who brought motorcoaches to D.C. to make a statement, was just incredible. Everyone rallied together to make sure that Congressional lawmakers, the Trump Administration and the media heard them loud and clear and are aware of how COVID-19 is impacting this industry like no other business in this country.
I was equally amazed by all the other segments of the industry that came to support their brothers and sisters. Motorcoach manufacturers, suppliers, tour operators, travel providers, hotels. Every part of the industry that partners with motorcoaches to create success and experiences for customers was onsite.
If you had asked me three weeks ago if we could have pulled this off this quickly, gotten 800+ motorcoaches to come together for four hours in downtown D.C. to make their voices heard, I would have said no. But once the call went out and the small organizing committee put their shoulder to the grindstone, there was no way that it wouldn’t be successful.
Those who couldn’t make the rally watched it streamed live on Facebook and saw the pictures all over social media. At ABA’s Facebook site more than 55,000 people saw our posts, in just a few hours! Some who were there and others online, noted that they were overcome with joy, appreciation and emotion at the site, and that it further strengthened their resolve to make even more noise and wake up Congress.
The fight on Capitol Hill is far from over. This week the House of Representatives considers the next stimulus package. There is a little money for a small segment of rural carriers. While it is not the $15 billion the industry needs, I look at it as getting our foot in the door. Now it’s time to kick the door open and remind the House and the Senate that we need more. And, as long as the passion from yesterday continues, we’ll get it.
So let's keep the momentum from yesterday going. Share your pictures and videos on social media, tag your Congressional representatives in your posts and tweets and call your representatives and tell them why you drove hundreds and thousands of miles to make your voice heard.
My sincere thanks to everyone who came to Washington yesterday, and to all those who supported the efforts even if you couldn’t be here. We truly made history yesterday and I am so humbled and proud to be a part of this industry.
Peter J. Pantuso, CTIS
President & CEO
American Bus Association