The wheels on Beckley Coachlines tour buses have not rolled since March 14, but that is now set to change.
The family-owned business, run by David and Gay Beckley and son Andrew, offers bespoke tours around the South Island and further afield to the North Island, but Covid-19 has put the breaks on any travel for the past three months.
Beckleys has developed a niche market in Mid Canterbury over the years and much of its business is focused on senior travel.
There was a strong, loyal following of senior clients and some were getting “cabin fever” and were keen to get on the road again, said Gay Beckley.
“We run 45 and 53-seater buses and it’s just not been economical to run it half full to meet social distancing rules over the last few weeks.
“Now things are start to get back to normal we can get back to running tours.”
The company had been forced to cancel recent tours to the Mackenzie Country, to the NZ Military Tattoo in Palmerston North, to theatre shows and other locations, and is struggling to get some refunds back.
Mrs Beckley said a number of new trips were in the pipeline, including tours to the West Coast, the Mackenzie Country (July 24-26), and overnighters to Akaroa and Hanmer Springs.
Transport was just one facet of touring, she said. People also needed accommodation and feeding, and those logistics needed to be worked out.
She said the senior market was in a better position financially to come through these tough times.
“The seniors are wonderful people and a real pleasure for us to work with.
“They want to get out and about and to see places and go to shows and events, and we’re here to help them do that.”
Locally, and since the closing of the Ashburton information centre, people had lost track to some extent on what was new or happening around the district, she said.
“We want to know what’s going on out there because then we can tailor our tours accordingly.”
Beckleys no longer runs bus tours for international visitors, and has not done so for five years.
By Mick Jensen