Norwich-based UK Holiday Group steps in to save coach trips to Thursford Spectacular

A Norwich holiday firm has moved in to rescue the trips of hundreds of coach passengers heading to Norfolk after a travel firm went into administration.

Loughborough-based Bowen Travel Group ceased trading last month, with nearly 5,000 people due to travel before Christmas.

Most of the passengers were based in the Midlands; however, many were booked on trips to see this year's Thursford Christmas Spectacular.

But with dozens of tourism businesses from restaurants to hotels all anticipating the arrivals heading in to Norfolk, the UK Holiday Group stepped in to take on forward bookings of Bowen Travel.

Individual bookings for coach holiday packages booked before 25 October are covered by Bonded Coach Holidays (BCH) – a government-approved scheme specifically for coach package holidays.

Harold Burke, sales director of UK Holiday Group, which is based in Queens Street, said the firm had also taken on two Bowen staff following its collapse.

'They were a very well respected company and we certainly didn't expect to find them in that sort of trouble,' he said. 'We were looking to see if we could help. They had about 5,000 people due to travel on coach parties before Christmas.

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'We were able to work out a compromise with the administrators and the BCH to take many of those coach parties.

'There were about 400 people booked on these group coach parties travelling in November and early December.

'The vast majority of these people are actually coming to Norfolk and staying in Norfolk around Cromer, Norwich, Cromer, Great Yarmouth and West Runton.

'We've been talking to Thursford and the hotels to try and keep things on an even footing.

'There's been lots of concern because these people were going to the Thurford Christmas Spectacular, which just shows what a great appeal Norfolk has at this time of year.'

Bookings made through the Bowen Travel Group after January 1 for other holidays and travel arrangements where Bowens acted as a travel agent are being honoured by Hays Travel.

Almost 400 jobs have been lost after Leicestershire coach firm Bowen went into administration.

Matt Cowlishaw of administrators Deloitte said it had been affected by the 'depressed leisure sector'.