VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — No industry has been hurt more by the economic fallout of the pandemic than the hospitality sector.
Thousands of bus companies across America headed to Washington D.C. early Wednesday morning for the “Buses Move Rally.”
The rally aimed to bring awareness to the needs of the bus company industry during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Virginia Beach-based Venture Tours headed out around 5 a.m. Wednesday morning to the rally. Owner Jimmy Hall believes their industry was overlooked by the government and hopes to bring about change.
Venture Tours joined a line of charter bus going up I-95 early Wednesday morning.
For companies like Venture Tours in Virginia Beach that offer day trips to places like Atlantic City, it’s lost nearly all of its business. Hall says it all started to go downhill March 13.
“We started getting calls of cancellations and the trips just continued and continued,” said Hall.
“So far, we’ve had to refund over $247,000 in refunds — and that was for trips that were prepaid,” he added.
It’s taken a financial and emotional toll on the company that has been in business since the 1990s.
“That was a big deal, I knew in my heart that I had to do it, I had to get these people back their money,” he said.
Hall says that giving and understanding spirit lives within the heart of every bus owner suffering during what is normally their busiest time of year.
“We want to bring awareness to our senators, Congress, the House, and our government … that when they gave the last helping package out for the airlines and the Amtrak and that part of the industries — federal transit, they got grant money it was like $75 billion — we were kind of overlooked,” he explained.
Hall’s company doesn’t just provide fun trips, they’re also a lifeline during natural disasters getting people to safety and transporting our armed forces.
“We work through it, times get tough but this is not your ordinary ‘times get tough.’ This is business went from extreme to like we are done. There is nothing going on right now,” said Hall.
He says he just wants to continue to be there for the community, but if they don’t get help now, they may not be able to help in the future.
Hall said he saw buses from California and even some from Alaska. He says this is a family business and he hopes there will be something to pass down to his children.
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