FROM its humble beginnings 19 years ago with one driver and a people carrier, McComb’s Coach Travel is now recognised as one of Northern Ireland’s leading family-owned coach tour operators employing 25 people.
Over the next 12 months, that success is about to be consolidated with a further £1m investment by the husband and wife team Rodney and Caroline McComb in a move which will also create 10 new jobs and increase the numbers of passengers they can carry by 40,000.
“Our growth has been steady over the last two decades and we’re delighted with our progress,” commented McComb’s Coach Travel founder, Rodney McComb. “We’ve noticed that over the years, as Northern Ireland has grown in confidence as a tourist destination, the numbers of visitors has increased and our business growth reflects that.”
He continued: “In the last number of years we have been able to invest £750k securing high performance coaches and vehicles as well as more people to service the demands of our business. This £1m investment however, enabling us to purchase four more top-of-the-range custom made coaches, marks a new and exciting phase in our development.”
Last year, McComb’s Coach Travel carried approximately 130,000 passengers – 60,000 of them visited the Giant’s Causeway, 10,000 took a Game of Thrones tour and their current Kildare Village shopping trip has proved so popular they have had to increase the number of coaches to meet the demand.
Caroline McComb, Director of McComb’s Coach Travel, said: “A lot of our customers come from outside Northern Ireland but our exchange-rate-friendly trips to an outlet shopping village south of the border, in Kildare, is almost exclusively used by locals.
“We have an established and loyal customer base in Northern Ireland including the Irish Football Association, Hastings Hotels and schools with whom we have worked for many years. We also work a lot with transporting Game of Thrones actors and senior personnel and when any major events take place, like the MTV awards, or other filming projects, such as the recent City of Z, our bookings increase significantly.
“The small luxury coach side of our business is also flourishing with golfers leading the way and following the recent news that The Open is due to take place in 2019, and with four Irish Opens in between, we see the golf tourism sector as a real growth area for us,” concluded Caroline.
Reflecting on the changes in the tourism sector since the mid-1990s, Rodney said: “Tourism has changed dramatically in Northern Ireland. In the early days, it was just myself and a people carrier taking journalists, researchers, and the odd thrill seeker from America, Australia and Britain, on tours of Belfast and the so-called no-go areas.
“Today, it’s all about Titanic Belfast, the Giant’s Causeway and screen tourism. People are looking forward, not back, and I believe the infrastructure in Northern Ireland and the positive economic changes, albeit small, are setting the scene for a boom time in tourism here.
“It’s our 20th year in business next year and we have some very exciting plans aimed at the local market including new tours and some major business developments and that’s where our focus is right now.”
For more information on McComb’s Coach Travel visit www.mccombscoaches.com or call 028 9031 5333.