A Northern Ireland luxury coach travel and tour company has predicted that 2012 will be its best year on record, thanks to a recent investment in its fleet to prepare for the tourist boom hitting the province this year.
The imminent opening of landmarks such as the Titanic Signature Building and Causeway Visitors’ Centre, as well as the planned Irish Open, has been good news for company directors Rodney and Caroline McComb, who established McComb’s Executive Travel and Tours 16 years ago.
The Titanic Quarter-based business - which last month scooped the top accolade for ‘2012 Coach Operator of the Year’ at the Federation of Passenger Transport Awards - started off with just a small Volkswagen Caravel in 1996 offering airport transfers for hotels and private passengers tours from Belfast to the Giant’s Causeway. Last year, by comparison, McComb’s boasted over 25,000 passengers on the same tour alone using one of its luxury 53-seater coaches.
“We work closely with a number of large organisations across Northern Ireland such as the education boards and sporting organisations, and in fact have just been awarded the tender for a further two years as the coach provider to the IFA,” said Caroline McComb.
“However, over half of our business is attributed to tourism, with tours ranging from one-day trips to the North Coast to five-day tours around Cork and Kerry, Derry and Donegal. Last year we provided transport for major events such as the British Transplant Games and Amnesty International World Conference, and in November were hired exclusively by SWATCH for the MTV European Music Awards.
“We are very grateful for the ongoing support of organisations such as the Northern Ireland Tourist Board and Belfast Visitor and Convention Bureau, whose work in attracting tourists to Northern Ireland is vital and without whom we wouldn’t be in the position we are now.”
Co-director Rodney McComb is confident that the continued world spotlight on Northern Ireland this year will have significant impact on the company’s turnover. “We have seen rapid expansion in the past 16 years, with our coach fleet and staff growing significantly as demand for our services has increased. As a result of this year’s tourism boom, demand is already so high that, with the financial assistance of Northern Bank, we have recently invested almost half a million pounds to further increase the size of our fleet with the purchase of two new 49-seater state-of-the-art executive coaches.
“We have also developed our service offering into the private chauffeuring market with the purchase of a luxury Mercedes car and a new Volkswagen Caravel for small parties. As a result, we expect to see our turnover increase significantly this year.”
Northern Bank Business Banking Manager John Deery said: “Northern Bank is committed to making it more straightforward for excellent indigenous companies like McComb’s to continually develop and grow through the ongoing support of our team and financial assistance – in this case through our asset finance credit unit to finance the purchase of the new vehicles.
“McComb’s has banked with us since day one and we have always been greatly encouraged by the company’s strong business acumen and ambition for growth. We look forward to continuing to work with the company in what is to be an exciting, successful year 2012 and in the years to come.”
Karen Magill, Chief Executive of the Federation of Passenger Transport in Northern Ireland (FPTNI), meanwhile commended the company for its industry-leading service, saying:
“McComb’s Executive Travel & Tours has won at least one award at the FPTNI awards every year for the past six years. Its most recent accolade is testament to the all-round exceptional service that it delivers to hundreds of thousands of passengers from all over the world every year in Northern Ireland.
“McComb’s is a great ambassador for the passenger transport industry in Northern Ireland and the perfect example of the excellent success that can be achieved through hard work, outstanding customer service, a top-of-the-range fleet of coaches and the hunger to continually update and improve its offering year on year.”